Security News

Spanish Football League Uses Fans' Phones to 'Spy'

Millions of Spanish soccer fans have unknowingly spied for La Liga, the country's national football league.

The snooping was uncovered after the league's official Android app was discovered to be listening to fans' surroundings during TV coverage of soccer matches. The GPS location data from the app - which has been downloaded over 10 million times - was matched to audio from the smartphone’s microphone in order to determine whether venues were airing live matches without a license.

La Liga has been ordered by the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) to pay a €250,000 (US$280,000) fine, but they aren't happy about it. In a statement, La Liga declared their technology couldn't identify phone users or listen to conversations. Also, users had to give consent on two occasions in order to allow the microphone functionality to be made active.

"We consider the fine that has been imposed to be unfair, and believe the AEPD hasn't made enough effort to understand how this technology works," La Liga said in a statement. "(We) would not be acting diligently if it did not use all means at its disposal to fight against piracy. This is a major undertaking given the scale of the fraud in the market, which is estimated to cost around €400m a year."

La Liga will challenge the decision "to show that we have always acted legally and responsibly".

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