The City of Los Angeles has sued to stop the operator of The Weather Channel’s mobile phone application from allegedly profiting from customer location data. On behalf of California residents, L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer has charged TWC with unfair business practices including unfair competition and violation of privacy. The complaint alleges that TWC uses geolocation tracking technology present in the weather app to monitor where users live, work, and visit, twenty-four hours a day. The complaint also alleges that TWC falsely leads users to believe that their location data is only used to provide them with “personalized local weather data, alerts, and forecasts.” Mr. Feuer says that instead, TWC sends this information to affiliates of its parent company, IBM, and other third parties for advertising and commercial purposes entirely unrelated to the weather.
Mr. Feuer describes TWC as “elevating corporate profits over users’ privacy, misleading them into allowing their movements to be tracked, 24/7. We’re acting to stop this alleged deceit. This case goes to the core of one of today’s most fundamental issues, How do we maintain our privacy in the digital age? We believe Americans must have the facts before giving away our most personal information.”
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA v. TWC PRODUCT AND TECHNOLOGY, LLC, states:
For years, TWC 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.” TWC has then profited from that data, using it and monetizing it for purposes entirely unrelated to weather or the Weather Channel App. In fact, unbeknownst to its users, TWC’s core business is amassing and profiting from user location data…
The People seek injunctive relief to put an end to TWC’s unfair business practices and civil penalties both to punish TWC for its egregious conduct and to deter TWC from engaging in the same or similar conduct in the future.
While IBM argues that their use of location data is totally appropriate, Mr. Feuer describes TWC as “covertly mining the private data of users and selling the information to third parties, including advertisers.” In litigation alleging the misuse of personal information, privacy experts are called upon to analyze privacy violations in consumer protection and business practices. Privacy expert witnesses present expert opinion to the court as to whether a company failed to enforce proper consumer protection policies. Contact ForensisGroup to be connected with an expert who is hand-selected to match the fact pattern in your case.