City of LA sues Weather Channel over location data

The LA city attorney alleges that the Weather Channel deceptively used its app to amass its users’ private, personal geolocation data. (Pixabay)

In a new lawsuit filed this week (PDF), the city of Los Angeles alleges that the Weather Channel app has deceived its users into sharing their location with the IBM-owned company for weather data but instead has been amassing their personal location data for profit.

“For years, [the Weather Channel] has deceptively used its Weather Channel app to amass its users’ private, personal geolocation data—tracking minute details about its users’ locations throughout the day and night, all the while leading users to believe that their data will only be used to provide them with ‘personalized local weather data, alerts and forecasts,’” Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer writes in the lawsuit. “[The Weather Channel] has then profited from that data, using it and monetizing it for purposes entirely unrelated to weather.”

In the lawsuit, Feuer adds that the company’s “core business is amassing and profiting from user location data” and its failure to notify users of its intent is “no mere oversight.” The Weather Channel app claims to be “the world’s most downloaded weather app” with around 45 million monthly active users.

“When seeking users’ permission to track geolocation data, the app does not disclose to users that [the Weather Channel] will transmit that data to third parties, nor that the data will be used for advertising and other commercial purposes bearing no relation to weather or the services provided by the app,” the lawsuit reads.

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The attorney elected to represent the second-most populated city in the country is seeking an injunction against the Weather Channel to stop what he alleges are “unfair business practices and civil penalties” to punish and deter the company from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

Feuer is holding a press conference later today to discuss the merits of the case and what he calls “egregious behavior” on the part of the Weather Channel.