L.A. CITY ATTORNEY FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST WEATHER APP
Steven T. Lowe
On January 3, 2019, the office of L.A. City Attorney Michael Feuer filed a lawsuit alleging a weather channel app has been secretly collecting, sharing and monetizing its users’ private information claiming their information is only being used for “personalized local weather data, alerts and forecasts.”
The lawsuit against TWC Product and Technology LLC, the company behind a weather app providing users with real-time weather information, is based upon the fact that the app tracks minute details about its 45 million monthly users’ locations throughout the day, which is masked by their their company’s business of weather updates; in fact, the company is actually transferring their users’ information to others for commercial use and profit.
According to the complaint, “This geolocation information that is used to analyze and determine users’ daily habits, consumer preferences and even their identities…is valuable data that serves as the basis of an approximately $21 billion location-targeted advertising industry.” This information allegedly collected by TWC is not limited to general information about the states, cities or zip codes in which users operate the app, but also tracks with “startling precision” where users live, work and visit throughout the day on a second-by-second basis, even when users are not actively using the app.
TWC has said it gets users’ consent for geolocation tracking, but according to the complaint, the company does not tell users that the information will be given to third parties and used for advertising and other commercial purposes not related to the weather or other services provided by the app.
The city attorney seeks injunctive relief to stop TWC’s alleged unfair business practices, as well as civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation.
The plaintiff is represented by Michael N. Feuer, James P. Clark, Thomas H. Peters, Michael J. Bostrom and Adam R. Teitelbaum of the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney.
The case is The People of the State of California v. TWC Product and Technology LLC, of which the case number was not immediately available, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
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