Spanish league denies charges about microphone in its app

Alonzo Simpson
June 14, 2019

It also knows when they're watching games and where.

La Liga, Spain's premier soccer league, was fined 250,000 euros on Tuesday for failing to adequately notify Android app users that it was recording what was going on near their phones.

La Liga claims that the software protects individual users' rights because it doesn't record, store or listen to conversations. With millions of downloads, the app was reportedly being used to surveil bars in an effort to catch establishments playing matches on television without a licence.

So not only was the app spying on fans, but it was also turning those fans into unwitting narcs.

However, the Spanish data protection agency claims that the app didn't make this clear, and has ordered LaLiga to take down the app by 30 June. The league told El Diario that the app automatically turns the audio into a code that is not stored or listened to by employees.

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According to La Liga, for the microphone function on their app to be activated, the user "must expressly, proactively and, on two occasions, give their consent", hence it can not be accused of a lack of transparency or information regarding this functionality.

It was in the terms of service where it disclosed that users were agreeing to let LaLiga use their phones as a spying device to track on pirated football games. Activation of both the microphone and geopositioning of your mobile device will require your prior acceptance of our pop-up window.

But the Spanish Agency for Data Protection (AEPD) reckons this soccer snooping is foul play, as LaLiga has failed to be properly transparent with the budget Bond-like tactics its app applies.

The league said this year they reported 600 establishments for illegally broadcasting live games.

"All this technology was implemented to achieve a legitimate goal", La Liga said, adding that it has a responsibility to use all technological advances at its disposal to "fight against piracy".

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