Ever since the new data privacy protections passed by the European Union in the wake of all sorts of shenanigans using apps and social media platforms app makers have found themselves in a glaring spotlight of scrutiny by the public they purport to serve. The General Data Protection Regulation recently inspired the makers behind the popular soccer streaming app La Liga to admit to spying on their users in a clandestine effort to weed out software pirates.
That’s right, a company spied on its own users to make sure those users had a right to be there. And if that’s not embarrassing enough, the app is the official app of Spain’s football league, also named La Liga.
The General Data Protection Regulation is a law that basically forces companies that use and retain user information gleaned from the Internet to disclose how that information is used, towards what purpose it is going, and how it is collected.
One major focus of the law was to stop firms from selling your information to other companies for politically motivated purposes.
In an almost Orwellian turn, it was initially thought that the target of the app’s spying were the users themselves, but also the app’s makers were seeking out locations where La Liga games were being illegally shown in public venues. Using the microphone on the smartphone for this purpose was, actually, completely legal. The problem arose when the app didn’t disclose exactly towards what purpose they were using your phone’s microphone. In this respect, the user granting consent for the app to use the smartphone’s microphone can be said to be only partially informed as there was little chance people knew it would be used to spy on their activity as a La Liga fan.
The GDPR guidelines force La Liga to tell its users what was going on and how exactly and to what extent user information was used. We can estimate that, with 10 million downloads of the app, the user database is quite substantial.