Liga de Fútbol Profesional, the national sports association that regulates Spanish professional soccer leagues, is using its official Android application to identify restaurants and other public establishments that illegally stream soccer matches. According to a report published by eldiario.es, the organization’s application requests permission to utilize one’s phone microphone, with La Liga then having the ability to remotely activate the handset’s microphone so that the app can record audio clips of one’s surroundings. In addition, the sports organization also uses geolocation to determine the exact place where the audio clip was recorded.
La Liga noted that the audio and geolocation data obtained by its application will only be used to fight piracy. The organization claims that piracy has resulted in revenue losses of at least €150 million last year. To ensure the privacy of users, La Liga also stated that the audio recordings are not stored on a server but are instead immediately converted to “signals” that are processed by a computer for determining possible pirate activities. La Liga hence claims that no one has the ability to access the audio recordings in their raw form. Nonetheless, users have the option of preventing the application from accessing the microphone by revoking its permission from the Android Settings menu.
However, there are still concerns raised about how the mechanism used by La Liga could negatively impact user privacy, especially as the initiative was reported shortly after the European Union implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) last month. In fact, a non-government organization has already filed four complaints against tech giants Google and Facebook, claiming both are in violations of the newly introduced rulebook. La Liga is transparent about the manner in which it uses its official Android app to listen to users in a bid to fight piracy, with the implication being that its unconventional tool is GDPR-compliant.