Spain’s La Liga was fined €250,000 today by the Spanish Data Protection Agency, one year after admitting that its mobile app was spying on some users’ phones in an attempt to find out if they were watching games on illegal feeds.
The app, which is supposed to give fans a way to check scores, schedules, and news, could also track users’ locations and activate their microphones remotely. La Liga openly admitted in a statement from June 2018 that they implemented this feature specifically to track down illicit streams via Android phones in Spain, and in handing down their fine, the Data Protection Agency ruled that they broke several EU laws about transparency and consent. While the location tracking and microphone spying were included in the app’s permissions, there was no indication on users’ phones as to when this data was being collected (which was during La Liga matches).
Four million people in Spain use this app, according to Telecompaper, and all signs are that this invasion-of-privacy scheme from La Liga—whose TV partners sell specific packages for bars to show soccer games—was quite successful. In March, the league brought criminal actions against over 600 Spanish bars that were illegally showing games.
La Liga said that they would finally remove the feature from its app by the end of the month, but they would appeal the fine. Those 250,000 Euros, for what it’s worth, is approximately what Lionel Messi earns from his Barcelona contract every three days, excluding bonuses and endorsements.