Do you know what you have downloaded?

Applications you download from Google Play, Apple store or any website often asks for permissions for your phone. Normally this includes your photos, camera etc, but more and more will ask for access to your microphone. Can this be abused? Of course it can!

Unscrupulous developers can insert code that will turn your microphone on and record conversations, make calls on your behalf and much more, because you have given them permission to do so!

Of course, if you don’t really mind, then there is no issue here.

Spain’s Top Football League Given Red Card!

La Liga, the “Premier League” of Spanish football and home organisation to HUGE teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid, has been slapped with a 250,000 Euros fine by Spain’s AEPD (A security regulator for those who don’t know).

Allegedly, the application, downloaded roughly 10 million times globally, uses the microphone from time to time in order to work out whether the user is in a pub or near a TV with the football being shown. The app then goes away and checks to see if the location you are in has a valid license or subscription to show such content.

By all accounts the use case is trying to catch those damned pirates, and stop them showing content free to their punters! However, it seems a little bit shady, some are saying….

Even though the app only does this AFTER you give it permission to access your microphone, the authorities have deemed it a breach of user privacy because of the way consent is given compared the access used. Basically they’re collecting data in manner not befitting of GDPR, in a GDPR Zone, with EU Nationals…

It’s alleged that the phone’s microphone audio sensor was accessed up to once per minute during football matches. Such use, it was concluded, is outside of what an average user may have knowingly consented to.

La Liga has strongly denied any wrongdoing and plans to challenge the ruling in court. A statement to Reuters read:

“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.” ®

Let’s be fair, a Quarter million Euro’s fine is barely a drop in the ocean for such a big league. I would argue with relative confidence that there are raft of footballers in the league who get paid that sum (or more) weekly!

Either way, it could be setting a precedent, so we’ll have to keep an eye on it. A court case is looming!

In Summary

Please be more aware of the permissions you grant to your Apps. While we all use apps daily to make life easier, (and I fully support making life easy!), we do hand out permissions like they’re sweets to be enjoyed for free.

Of course, if you are using an app that sends messages on your behalf, give it access to send messages, but there’s little use for it having access to GPS, or your microphone.

If we were all a little more astute, refusing permissions to apps that ask for too much, you might find they will stop asking for it. Who knows.

Bottom line, just be mindful of your choices, you never know when technology may be listening.

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