Facepalm: LaLiga has been fined €250,000 ($280,000) by La Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD) for violating the European Union’s data privacy laws. The Spanish football league was allegedly using an app to spy on users and track down bars streaming league games without a license.
According to Spanish news outlet El Diario, LaLiga released an app that allowed users to track soccer games and stats. The program has been downloaded by fans more than 10 million times. What users did not know was that the app was using their device’s GPS to track their location and its microphone to listen in on them.
The application did not actually record audio, but instead would listen for LaLiga games being played in the background. The technology it used is similar to Shazam but for soccer games. If the algorithms identified a broadcast, location data would be sent back to LaLiga to determine if the location had a license to televise the match.
"[The AEPD] has not made the necessary effort to understand how [this] technology works."
Even though the app asks users for permission to use the microphone and GPS, it was not transparent in how these components were being used. Only by digging into the terms of service is it revealed that users were consenting to allow LaLiga to use their phones as a spying device to detect pirated football games.
Unfortunately for LaLiga, that is not good enough. The AEPD, Spain's data protection agency, said that such a usage should be made explicitly clear to the user and not be buried deep in the legalese. It has mandated that LaLiga remove the app by June 30. The organization has appealed the order and fine claiming that the agency does not fully understand the technology and its use.
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