La Liga app snooping on users to fight football piracy

Spanish football league La Liga has admitted eavesdropping on users of its official app in a bid to crack down on pirate broadcasts of matches.  

According to an expose by Spanish media, the snooping software uses GPS to detect the location of app users during football games, and listens in via their mobile microphone if they are in a bar. 

The app uses an algorithm to identify whether the person is watching a match there, and checks their location to see if it the bar owner has paid for a licence to broadcast the game.

A total of around ten million people have downloaded the app, but it is believed that only users in Spain are affected by the spying software, according to Trusted Reviews.

La Liga has denied any wrongdoing and said the app will only access a user’s microphone with their permission, which is requested when the software is launched for the first time. 

The app only records audio during La Liga matches using a sophisticated algorithm that deletes all other audio files, the league added. 

According to TechCrunch, the snooping feature was uncovered largely as a result of the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May. The laws required app creators to outline what they do with user data “more precisely”.

Trust Reviews says that the software is a “sneaky way” to “rat out pirates” but that La Liga is “technically doing nothing wrong”, since it seeks the permission of users before accessing their phone’s microphone. 

The revelations highlight the piracy problem facing football leagues worldwide, with La Liga claiming resulting losses of about €150m (£130m) per year, The Daily Telegraph reports. 

In Britain, the High Court last year granted the Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) and the English Premier League  permission to “block illegal football streams”, the newspaper says.

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