Anti-piracy measures in La Liga app violates GDPR

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 14, 2019

Spain's La Liga was fined €250,000 this week by the Spanish Data Protection Agency, one year after admitting that its mobile app was spying on some users' phones in an attempt to find out if they were watching games on illegal feeds. 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.

But, in a decision that calls into question the way users of digital services give permission for the use of personal data, the AEPD took issue with the app's one-off system of consent, suggesting instead that La Liga should have warned users each time that the activated the espionage function.

According to Spanish news outlet El Diario, LaLiga released an app that allowed users to track soccer games and stats. However, the agency stated that La Liga failed to notify users that the app could turn on their smartphone microphones and track their location at any time.

La Liga claims that the software protects individual users' rights because it doesn't record, store or listen to conversations.

If you accept the specific and optional box enabled for this goal, you consent to the access and use of your mobile device's microphone and geopositioning functionalities so that LaLiga knows from which locations football is being streamed and thus detect any fraudulent behaviour by unauthorised establishments. The AEPD, Spain's data protection agency, said that such a usage should be made precisely known to the user and should not be hidden deep.

Spain's top football league said it will appeal a ruling that its official app violates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), insisting it was used to curb piracy.

"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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