This story pissed me off, for all the usual reasons:
“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,’” the complaint reads.
The data serves no weather-related purpose, but was only collected in order to allow TWC to turn a profit, the complaint reads. The data was sold to at least 12 third party websites over the past 19 months.
The Weather Channel app has about 45 million users, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit is seeking an injunction prohibiting TWC from continuing to collect and sell the data, along with civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation.
Just this week, I went through a store (Forever 21) instead of using a mall entrance because my car was parked closer to the former than the latter. And on leaving the mall, I went back out the same way.
Needless to say, when I got home I had one of those “personalized”, annoying little requests: “Tell us about your shopping experience at Forever 21” with a link attached. Being annoyed, I went there and wrote the following:
“I walked around your store TWICE today, and not once did anyone from your staff offer to help me. In fact, given that the people I THINK were employees were dressed like customers, it was hard to tell whether there were in fact any employees in the store at all. Certainly, most people in the store were standing around chatting to their friends and ignoring everyone else completely, so there was no way of telling. It will be a long time, if ever, before I visit Forever 21 again.”
And every single word of that is true. Yeah, it’s possible the wrong people will get punished. I don’t fucking care. If enough people turn this data snooping around and use it against these “marketing” bastards, maybe they’ll stop using it. If not… did I mention I don’t fucking care?
And to return to my original gripe: I deleted the Weather Channel app off my phone, just in case and just because.
A spokesperson for The Weather Company — which operates the Weather Channel – provided CBS2 with the following statement:
“The Weather Company has always been transparent with use of location data; the disclosures are fully appropriate, and we will defend them vigorously.”
Fuck them and their transparency. I hope the lawsuit costs them many millions, and they go out of business. And I wish I knew which dozen organizations bought TWC’s tracking data so that I could boycott them too. If anyone knows who they are, please share that information in Comments.