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Weatherbug: Is it Spyware?

written by: Radell Hunter•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 8/3/2010

People who travel need up-to-date weather information at the drop of a hat (or through their iphone), so being able to access a weather program that is under contract to provide Homeland Security with the same data is smart business.

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    Weatherbug: Electronic Friendly

    If you are a business traveler and need to know weather information at all hours of the day and night—giving you advance notice of a storm or blizzard an hour’s drive ahead, it would be helpful to be able to access that kind of information from your iPhone or iPod while on the road. Such advance weather knowledge capability could help to prevent an accident on the road or aid you in choosing another route.

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    Advanced Weather Data Source

    Weatherbug is such a software program, providing download capability to iPhones, iPods and computers. And since people can’t just pull off the interstate and tune in to the local news network every night from a television in their car—or boot up their computer as they are going down the road—Weatherbug offers a good alternative.

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    Spyware or Adware?

    But Weatherbug, part of AWS Convergence Technologies, hasn’t always seemed like a good deal to everyone. During Weatherbugs earlier versions, in 2005, it came under the scrutiny of Microsoft when their antispyware program red flagged Weatherbug for its activity on users’ computers. Although it turned out that Weatherbug wasn’t really spyware, as Microsoft’s Antispyware originally thought, it did amount to adware (those pesky pop up ads and banners that consumers want less of on their computers).

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    Adware: Not Required

    Some people, however, feel that adware is just a dirty cousin to spyware, since it forces the consumer to take something it really doesn’t want (ads blanketing their iPhone, iPod or computer) in order to have something it does (the latest weather). So Weatherbug, in an effort not to lose customers over the ad issue, decided to offer customers a choice: ad-less service for a small monthly fee fewer than 20 dollars, or free weather information service with the ads.

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    Two Service Option Types

    Needing to also address the consumers who had already downloaded their free software program that contained the ads, Weatherbug set about providing another version to its consumers, one that would uninstall the free (with ads) original version and install Weatherbug’s new paid service version.

    So while some might attempt to label Weatherbug “spyware," it really doesn’t fall into that category, since it isn’t designed to collect information from its users; it is designed to promote advertisers information instead.

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    Weatherbug and Homeland Security

    Operating weather stations in approximately 8,000 areas across the United States, Weatherbug is not only the consumer’s choice for last-minute weather updates; it is the choice of the federal government as well, serving as a data supplier for federal agencies like Homeland Security in the event of a natural disaster.