La Liga, the organisation which governs the top football teams in Spain, including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Athletico Madrid, is facing a six-figure GDPR fine following a spectacular cock-up in its efforts to stop fans from pirating live games.
According to reports, the issue was sparked by a masterplan to track users of the football league’s official mobile app, which offers live match scores and has been downloaded nearly 10 million times.
Once the app had gained users’ consent, it would regularly access the microphone on their mobile phones to check if they were in a bar – or a similar setting – watching the game on a TV.
If it sounded like they were, location data would be used to see whether the establishment had a subscription for showing the game in a commercial setting. The strategy was designed to ensure sports bars were not showing matches using cheaper home cable or TV packages rather than far more expensive commercial subscriptions.
However, the Spanish data protection watchdog AEPD ruled this week that La Liga did not adequately inform users about its monitoring practices when the software was installed and run on mobile devices: it simply asked once if it could use the mic, rather than make clear it was repeatedly accessing the audio sensor.
AEPD determined that La Liga was improperly collecting the personal data of users and has issued a €250,000 (£222,000) monetary penalty.
In response, La Liga said it would challenge the ruling in court.
A spokesman told Reuters: “La Liga disagrees profoundly with this decision, rejects the penalty imposed as unjust, unfounded and disproportionate and considers that the AEPD has not made the necessary efforts to understand how the technology works. As a result, it will challenge the ruling in court to demonstrate that its actions have always been responsible and in accordance with the law.”
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