Spain’s La Liga defends its tapping of users’ microphones at bars

Spain’s pro soccer league is on the hot seat for using its app to eavesdrop on users and bust bars for illegal live-streaming.

June 14, 2019

Spain’s pro soccer league La Liga got a $282k kick to the pants from the Spanish data protection agency for using its mobile app to listen to fans so it could find bars illegally live-streaming games.

But there’s a twist: The app’s Terms of Service technically acknowledged the spying program — raising questions about the purpose of the fine print.

Betrayal at the bar

La Liga marketed its app — which was downloaded more than 10m times — as a tool for soccer fans to track scores, schedules, and news.

But the app also used geolocation data to turn on phones’ microphones to record audio upon entry to bars, using Shazam-like tools to scan for illegal streaming.

How do you define invasion of privacy?

La Liga plans to challenge the data protection agency’s fine, arguing that it offered required info and deactivation options in the fine print. 

But regulators say that the app intentionally misled people, adding that it should also have alerted users every time it used their microphones.

La Liga’s app was not the only sneaky eavesdropper: A New York Times report found that 1k+ apps had similar mic-tapping software.

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