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LaLiga's app listened in on fans to take bars illegally streaming soccer

14 June 2019

The agency found that La Liga did not adequately notify users about the app's surveillance components and therefore violated the basic principle of transparency under the European Union legislation.

According to El País (via Reuters), the issue surrounds the official smartphone app distributed by the league to keep fans informed of the latest scores and news.

Some other apps try to use the same features to gather information, if they're not blocked by users.

Though La Liga admitted the app did record through users' phones, the league insisted the users had the option to opt-out of allowing the app to track phone location and access the microphone. The league says the agency's charge that the app does not properly warn users that its use can activate the microphone in smartphones is "unjust" and "unfounded".

There has always been speculation in some corners that certain companies, in particular, social media companies use your phone microphone to gather data to hit you with targeted ads.

The technology, which works similarly to the "acoustic fingerprint" used by software such as song-identification app Shazam, is activated during LaLiga transmissions, recording in bursts of five seconds once per minute. The league told El Diario that the app automatically turns the audio into a code that is not stored or listened to by employees. The app does note within the phrases of service that by giving the app permission, customers are consenting to LaLiga the spend of their telephones to detect spurious behavior, fancy pirated soccer video games. It also confirmed that it will appeal the AEPD's ruling.

The agency fined the La Liga for violating European Union data privacy and transparency laws, and ordered the league to take down the app by June 30.

"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".

LaLiga's app listened in on fans to take bars illegally streaming soccer