A proposed class action looks to hold the companies behind the Weather Channel app accountable for an alleged years-long scheme to collect, store and profit from consumers’ geolocation data “all without their knowledge.”
Until recently, defendant TWC Product and Technology LLC, owned and operated by IBM, did not disclose to Weather Channel app users the specificity with which it tracked their geolocation data, the 23-page lawsuit says. Though the defendant represented it would only track user data for the purpose of providing personalized, real-time local weather information, TWC Product and Technology never informed proposed class members that it maintained their data or profited from the information by transmitting and selling geolocation information to affiliates and third parties for advertising and marketing purposes, the case says.
“Nothing in the description of the App or prompts to allow geolocation tracking alerted users to the extent and purpose of the location tracking function of the App,” the complaint reads. “As a result of lawsuits and in an attempt to correct its past misrepresentations and deceptions, TWC has drastically changed the disclosures it makes to app users regarding the purpose for which it collects geolocation data.”
Prior to “recent changes,” the defendant “fraudulently and deceptively” induced Weather Channel app users to grant the company permission to access their personal geolocation data as a purported means to provide more accurate weather information, the suit says. What consumers didn’t know is that the Weather Channel App tracked their locations “at all times, day and night, 365 days a year,” according to the complaint.
Per the lawsuit, a Weather Channel app user is asked immediately upon opening the app to provide TWC with permission to access their data. This request fails to disclose to the user that the defendant “would be tracking the users [sic] every move or that this information will be used for any purpose other than providing the user information about the weather,” according to the case.
Moreover, TWC has failed to disclose to users that providing their location-data consent would leave them subject to targeted advertisements based on their captured geolocation information, the lawsuit says.
The plaintiff, a California consumer, alleges TWC did not disclose to users that it maintained their geolocation data, much less that it profited directly from the transmission and/or sale of the data to third parties. By the defendant’s own admission, TWC’s primary revenue source comes from collecting, maintaining, disseminating and profiting from user location data, the suit says, charging Weather Channel app users are flatly unaware the defendant considers itself “a location data company powered by the weather.”
The suit goes on to assert that while lawsuits forced TWC to drastically revamp its data collection disclosures, the revisions “did nothing to cure the deceptive, fraudulent, and unfair conduct” that’s induced app users into granting the defendant unfettered access to their location details. As the lawsuit tells it, TWC continues to profit from Weather Channel app users’ geolocation data.
The lawsuit looks to cover all California residents and entities who downloaded the Weather Channel app and granted TWC Product and Technology access to the user’s geolocation data before January 25, 2019.
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