AccuWeather refuses to stop selling your location data to advertisers

Bradley Wint
Aug 27, 2017 12:07am AST
Photo: AOL

AccuWeather came under some hot water a few days ago after it was discovered that its iOS weather app was transmitting geolocation data to a third-party advertiser even when users explicitly denied the app location access.

The privacy breach was first discovered by popular iOS jailbreaker and security researcher, Will Strafach. While researching an entirely different issue with the app, he discovered that the program was sending precise geolocation information, WiFi BSSIDs, and bluetooth status to revealmobile.com.

The domain points to a marketing company aimed at maximizing advertising profits by collecting as much geolocation data to delivery highly targeted ads.

To confirm Strafach’s claim, ZDNET independently tested the claim and verified that the AccuWeather app was indeed sending geo data to the third-party company even when the app’s location privileges were revoked.

The biggest concern here is that AccuWeather at no point states that a user’s location data would be used in the delivery of more personalized ads.

It just won’t stop

After AccuWeather gave a half-hearted/non-apologetic explanation, they released an updated version, promising to fix the issue.

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It turns out that they just switched their data collection platform, even though they only collect data when location services are enabled for the app. Once again, ZDNET confirmed the claim via an independent test, revealing that data was now being sent to a new third-party domain, nexage.com, which is part of the Oath advertising network.

Again, no mention is made by the folks at AccuWeather that location data would be used for advertising targeting purposes, but rather play it off as delivering precise weather location information, which still goes against Apple’s App Store policies.

While Reveal Mobile tried to play off the issue as information being misconstrued, Oath publicly acknowledged that data was being sent to them via their SDK for targeting purposes from users who enabled location data for the app.

AccuWeather sends us geo-location data through our SDK only when location sharing is enabled by the consumer. We use this data to enable our buyers on our ad exchange to effectively value the impression. Location is commonly used by buyers in order to serve more relevant content and advertising to enhance the overall consumer experience. We’re committed to fostering an accountable ecosystem and complying with all applicable privacy laws and regulations.

At least they aren’t lying about it.

AccuWeather has yet to comment about the updated situation.

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