Do you rely on the AccuWeather App to keep tabs on local weather conditions? If so, you’ll want to read this. According to an independent security researcher named Will Strafach, the AccuWeather app designed for iOS sends your location information to a firm called “Reveal Mobile,” which is a data monetization company.
Based on Strafach’s findings, the app sends:
• Your precise GPS coordinates
• The current status of your device’s Bluetooth connection (on/off)
• And the BSSID and name of the network you’re currently using
In terms of what Reveal Mobile may be doing with the information, odds are that they’re busy mapping out each person’s daily travels, collecting information on what stores and restaurants they visit in order to better target ads to those individuals.
Obviously, there are serious privacy issues here, but the problem is much worse than simple marketing.
Consider, for instance, that you have this app installed on your mobile device, and you regularly visit a cancer clinic. That’s a strong indication that you, or someone in your family has the disease, which is information you may not want broadcast to a wider audience. There’s no indication that Reveal Mobile would actually do something like that, but there’s also no evidence that they wouldn’t, and in any case, your private information is yours. It should be up to you to say who gets to see and know the specific details of your life, not a for-profit company bent on using your own habits, comings and goings against you.
Unfortunately, the current body of law in this area hasn’t kept pace with technology. What these companies are doing isn’t illegal, no matter how much it might make your skin crawl.
Clearly, though, that is something that needs to change. There are no easy answers here, but in the short term, if you don’t want your every move tracked, and that information sold to a third party, stop using the AccuWeather app until the company stops selling your location information.