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Weather apps and location data sharing

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Important read from the NYT.


I stay on top of which apps I allow to use my location history ("all the time" vs. "When using the app" vs. "never"). I allowed WeatherBug to keep using it "always" assuming it helps with weather alerts wherever I am traveling. I am a grown up, and know they use location services to target ads. I generally assumed that was to serve them up in app. Not for sharing a detailed record of where I go, which is what they apparently do.

WeatherBug is particularly heinous: "Precise location data from one app, WeatherBug on iOS, was received by 40 companies. When contacted by The Times, some of the companies that received that data described it as “unsolicited” or “inappropriate.” 

And the Weather Channel app...


The Weather Channel app, owned by an IBM subsidiary, told users that sharing their locations would let them get personalized local weather reports. IBM said the subsidiary, the Weather Company, discussed other uses in its privacy policy and in a separate “privacy settings” section of the app. Information on advertising was included there, but a part of the app called “location settings” made no mention of it.

The app did not explicitly disclose that the company had also analyzed the data for hedge funds — a pilot program that was promoted on the company’s website. An IBM spokesman said the pilot had ended. (IBM updated the app’s privacy policy on Dec. 5, after queries from The Times, to say that it might share aggregated location data for commercial purposes such as analyzing foot traffic.)


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