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Spain’s professional football league was fined by the Spanish data protection agency (AEDP) after breaching transparency regulation.

The AEDP (Agencia Española de Protección de Datos) imposed a €250.000 fine to La Liga, Spain’s professional football league, for breaching the transparency regulations with its official app. The service was found accessing devices’ microphones and geolocation without consent, allegedly to combat piracy in bars and venues broadcasting football matches.

Unprecedentedly, the government agency ruled that the app has to be modified or else removed from the online stores, and fined La Liga with a hefty quarter million Euro penalty.

The app, officially designed to show interesting results and facts on football competitions, was tweaked to covertly switch on the microphone to understand whether a match was being watched in a private home or in a public venue. It is important to note that private devices and public venues pay different fares for watching La Liga.

La Liga said that the fine is unfair and that the AEPD did not “put the necessary effort into understanding how the technology works.” In a statement to ABC, La Liga said that it will be launching an appeal to demonstrate the legitimacy of its actions. It has also promised to deactivate the spying functions from June 30.

“The technology was implemented to reach a legitimate goal, that is to comply with La Liga’s obligation to oversee and maintain the marketing and exploitation conditions of the audiovisual rights,” point out sources close to La Liga.

“Only 0,75% of the data is stored, the remaining 99,25% is deleted,” La Liga claims. “It is technically impossible to interpret human voice or conversations.”

According to experts, AEPD’s decision is well supported by the inherent problems of Liga’s system. “[…]in the end we see data manipulation of the device's recordings and geolocation of the place where the recording was taken,” commented Sergio Carrasco, digital rights jurist from Fase Consulting. “Consent from the owners of the devices does not apply to everything, especially something with such a broad reach as what has been done [by La Liga].”

 

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