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LA Is Suing The Weather Channel App For Selling Users' Location Data

Screengrab of The Weather Channel app
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Here in L.A., we like to joke about the weather -- how it's cold at 65 degrees (IT IS), or how we may be a bit melodramatic in the case of rain.

But there's nothing particularly funny about the recent news that the Weather Channel app, which is owned by a subsidiary of IBM, has been selling users' location data for profit to third-party companies without the users' knowledge. In response, the L.A. City Attorney's office has filed a lawsuit against TWC Products and Technology, LLC.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced the lawsuit at a press conference Friday morning. The suit alleges that the app "covertly mines the private data of its users, and then it sends that information to third parties, like advertisers and others," Feuer said.

Screengrab of The Weather Channel app
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Feuer's suit further alleges that the Weather Channel app deliberately misleads users by not being clear with how their location data will be used. The app requests permission to access users' location in a pop-up message upon being downloaded, but does not say that it will be shared or sold. That information is available in the app's privacy settings, but, says Feuer, that setting has "10,000 words in it."

The suit is being brought on behalf of the people of California, but the app has at least 45 million monthly users.

Feuer et al are seeking an injunction to prevent the practice from continuing, and penalties to deter other companies from doing the same thing.

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