SPAIN’S La Liga has been fined €250,000 for using a mobile phone app to listen out for illegal screenings of football matches.
The application used users’ phones’ microphones to listen to background noise for the sound of a televised game. It then combined this with devices’ GPS location data to try and identify bars and restaurants that were showing matches without paying the appropriate fee.
Now Spain’s national data protection agency (AEPD) has said this falls foul of data protection laws because it was not clear enough about telling users of the Android app about its ‘spying’ capabilities.
The app would ask for permission to access the microphone and GPS data, but the AEPD says this was done in an “opaque” manner.
On top of that, the AEPD says consent should have been asked for every time the app activated the microphone as it was essentially capturing personal data. The app also failed to ensure that users could withdraw consent at any time.
However, La Liga has vowed to appeal the decision saying that the AEPD does not understand the technology and had made no effort to.
La Liga insists that it was not possible to listen to users’ voices and all it did was collect a ’sound footprint’ that could not be turned back into the content of an actual recording, so therefore there was no collection of personal data.
This particular functionality of the app is being dropped by June 30 in any case when a contract with the technology’s provider ends.
La Liga says that the unlicensed viewing of the top division’s matches costs it €400 million a year.
The app has more than 10 million users, with 4 million in Spain and provides match information, highlight clips and the latest news on La Liga football.