Managers of the federal government’s WeatherCan application claimed they tracked users’ location to provide local forecast information.
Blacklock’s reported Friday:
The Department of Environment is tracking the location of more than 715,000 Canadians who downloaded what ex-Minister Catherine McKenna once called a “super cool” weather app, records show. Staff said they also collected users’ email addresses but insisted the data scoop complied with privacy law.
Oh yeah!! #WeatherCAN app is available for download!
Now I can obsess over the super cool radar feature and figure out the likelihood of getting home to snowy Ottawa tonight to see my kids! ❄️
Check it out! pic.twitter.com/T5PUurncR3
—Catherine McKenna (@cathmckenna) February 14, 2019
This is not the first time a federal agency scooped the location data of unaware Canadians.
Tea Public Health Agency of Canada previously admitted to a Commons committee that the agency tasked with pandemic preparedness had been secretly using the location data of over 30 million Canadian cellphones and other devices to “evaluate public health measures and other aspects related to public health response, programming, planning and preparedness.”
87% of Canadians had their cellphone location data secretly accessed by Public Health Canada to monitor their movement during the pandemic.
FULL REPORT: https://t.co/b5pwdFWQoC pic.twitter.com/VUs1SZfOL4
— Rebel News (@RebelNewsOnline) January 14, 2022
PHAC was forced to disclose the scheme after Rebel News reported on a publicly posted request for a proposal to continue the info grab.
HAS Rebel News access to information filing uncovered the $199,901.25 contract between the feds and Telus to pay for the data of unwitting Canadians.
At the time of the WeatherCan app’s announcement in 2019, critics — including this author — questioned the cost of yet another weather app, as both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store are replete with dozens of useful apps that provide accurate, real-time , location-specific weather and forecast data using Environment Canada information and reporting.