Earlier today, the city of Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against IBM (the owners of the Weather Channel app). In this lawsuit, the city accused IBM of mis-using location data acquired from users of the Weather Channel’s phone app. By claiming that the app failed to disclose information regarding their data practices, the city believes that IBM is in violation of data protection laws.
IBM’s Weather Channel App
For those of you who don’t know, The Weather Channel’s phone app is one of the most popular pieces of software available on mobile devices. At the time of this writing, the app has over 100 million downloads across iOS and Android phones. In addition to this, the Weather Channel claims that their app has over 45 million active users a month. Putting that into perspective, it’s easy to see the potential value in the massive amount of information available. Especially when you consider that the service provided by the app works best when location tracking is enabled.
Is It A Cell Phone Spy App?
While many popular apps collect information on their users, most notably Facebook’s popular social media app, its important to note that there are rules and regulations in place for these companies to follow. In this particular case, the Weather Channel app failed to alert users to the fact that third-party companies would be able to access their location history. In light of these allegations, it seems as though the company is definitely using their app to collect information on its users. While it may not be exactly the same thing as a cell phone spy app, it certainly does have the ability to collect and store location history.
IBM on the other hand believes they’ve done more than enough to comply with data protection laws. Stating that they’ve “always been transparent with use of location data.” At this moment, it’s still too early to see which party has the edge going into the lawsuit. But it will certainly be interesting to see how it all plays out.
What do you think of the allegations made against IBM and the Weather Channel? Do you think it’s fair to say that the Weather Channel app is a cell phone spy app? Let us know in the comment section below.