IBM’s Weather Channel sued for misuse of location data

IBM’s Weather Channel sued for misuse of location data

The city of Los Angeles is suing IBM’s Weather Channel branch. The city believes that the company has misled consumers about how it uses information about their location. The company would not resell the data, but would use it in other ways than by informing consumers.

That’s what Bloomberg reports today on the basis of the indictment that the city of Los Angeles has filed with a judge. IBM would use detailed user location information for targeted advertising. It would also use the information to identify consumer trends that are useful for hedge funds. The company tells consumers to use their location only for local weather forecasts.

Detailed location information

According to the city of Los Angeles, few users know about it, but the Weather Channel App has been tracking detailed location data from users for years. The way the Weather Channel works would be unfair and fraudulent. We also read in the indictment that the company has made a profit with the data. These are used for purposes completely unrelated to the weather or the Weather Channel App.

The case is dragging IBM into a broader dialogue that is currently being conducted on the way in which tech companies use consumer data. Politicians, users and regulators have been discussing this for two years. IBM had been saying that it handled data better than consumer platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.

The city of Los Angeles obviously disagrees. IBM took over the Weather Channel’s digital activities, including the site and app, in 2015. It wanted to use that data to improve Watson, the company’s system of artificial intelligence that simply needs large datasets to get better.

In a reaction to Bloomberg, Ed Barbini, an IBM spokesman, said that The Weather Company has always been transparent about the use of location data. The way in which the data is used would always have been known to users and would have been appropriate.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.