According to security experts consulted by the BBC, weather forecasting apps are mining user data without permission and facilitating fraud. One of them, the Weather Forecast-World Weather Accurate Radar, has already been downloaded more than 10 millions of times in the Play Store and is accused of enrolling users in paid services without their permissions.
This particular app is developed by China's TCL, which owns the Alcatel and BlackBerry smartphone brands. The company even ships that factory software on such devices.
According to Upstream Systems, which specializes in mobile security, the TCL app solicits information in excess of the user, characterizing personal data mining. To use the app, you not only have to provide your location in real time, but also deliver email addresses and IMEI numbers from your smartphone.
The security company claims that in Brazil alone, more than 2,5 million suspicious transaction attempts were made between July and August of 2018 through Alcatel smartphones using the said TCL app here. Once discovered, the schema was blocked. Outside Brazil, owners of Alcatel handsets in Malaysia and Nigeria were also victims.
Several other weather apps have also been caught up in similar practices. In December, Google removed two Chinese weather apps from the Play Store because of excessive user data collection.
China is also a victim
An Internet-based organization in China also found that 18 of the most popular apps in the country also practice the same excessive collection without users' permission.
In the US, the Weather Channel, the most popular weather forecasting app there, with more than 100 millions of installs on Android and iOS devices, has been accused of also mining user data and making commercial use of it without ever requesting authorization.
The company is now being sued by the Los Angeles Public Prosecutor's Office. This company is owned by IBM.