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Spain’s LaLiga app used audio recognition tech to catch users

LaLiga — Spain’s top football league — has been slapped with a €250,000 (just over RM1.1 million) fine for allegedly violating EU data privacy and transparency laws.

It was discovered that the league’s official app — for tracking matches, scores and other stats — when installed will use the phone’s microphone and audio recognition technology to listen for occasions when matches were streamed illegally. The app then used the phone’s GPS data to determine the location where the illegal streaming is happening and essential nab the perpetrator.

The app has over 10 million downloads on Android and presumably just as many on iOS. This makes the app a potentially potent spy tool for the league. However, the league claims the app asks for permission to access the phone’s microphone and location, and that the data — which is received as a code, not audio — is only used to detect LaLiga streams.

According to The Verge, the app does explain in the terms of service that by giving the app permission, users are consenting to LaLiga using their phones to detect fraudulent behaviour, like pirated soccer games.

However, the Spanish data protection agency claims that the app didn’t make this clear, and has ordered LaLiga to take down the app by 30 June. The league plans to appeal the sanction, claiming that the agency doesn’t fully understand the app’s technology.