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Spanish Soccer League App In Google Play Wants To Use Phone Mics To Enforce Copyrights (arstechnica.com) 77

The official app for the Spanish soccer league La Liga, which has more than 10 million downloads from Google Play, was recently updated to seek access to users' microphone and GPS settings. "When granted, the app processes audio snippets in an attempt to identify public venues that broadcast soccer games without a license," reports Ars Technica. From the report: According to a statement issued by La Liga officials, the functionality was added last Friday and is enabled only after users click "eyes" to an Android dialog asking if the app can access the mic and geolocation of the device. The statement says the audio is used solely to identify establishments that broadcast games without a license and that the app takes special precautions to prevent it from spying on end users. [La Liga's full statement with the "appropriate technical measures to protect the user's privacy" is embedded in Ars' report.]

[E]ven if the app uses a cryptographic hash or some other means to ensure that stored or transmitted audio fragments can't be abused by company insiders or hackers (a major hypothetical), there are reasons users should reject this permission. For one, allowing an app to collect the IP address, unique app ID, binary representation of audio, and the time that the audio was converted could provide a fair amount of information over time about a user. For another, end users frequenting local bars and restaurants shouldn't be put in the position of policing the copyrights of sports leagues, particularly with an app that uses processed audio from their omnipresent phone.

Spanish Soccer League App In Google Play Wants To Use Phone Mics To Enforce Copyrights

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    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      It's reassuring that after all these years, and changes of ownership, Slashdot remains the same as it always has been.
  • Is this even legal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @04:49PM (#56779620)

    Presumably, they'd be recording also other people at the same venue who have not agreed to being recorded. Someone's voice is sensitive information. Given the new laws about privacy in the EU, I'm surprised this is even legal, or that they are taking the risk at all.

  • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @04:54PM (#56779668) Homepage

    Imagine if a handful of apps on your phone were this bad. Would your battery even last through the day?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Do it now while you have at least a shred of your personal privacy left to you. Or do you all enjoy being treated like convicts in prison, or animals in a zoo, watched 24/7/365? Stop being stupid, get rid of your smartphone.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Do it now while you have at least a shred of your personal privacy left to you. Or do you all enjoy being treated like convicts in prison, or animals in a zoo, watched 24/7/365? Stop being stupid, get rid of your smartphone.

      I'll keep my smartphone and when I want privacy I will put the phone in a bag which is effectively a Faraday cage as well as a sound insulator.

      But thanks for the advice, you sad little paranoiac.

      • âoe I'll keep my smartphone and when I want privacy I will put the phone in a bag which is effectively a Faraday cage as well as a sound insulator.
        But thanks for the advice, you sad little paranoiac. âoe

        Pot, meet kettle.

    • We need a new name for these mass surveillance devices, there's nothing "smart" about them. I'd also like another name for pocketable networked computers outside that sheepcosystem (like the N900 could have been). Then again, what did I expect after the age of where "personal" computing meant Windows...
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @04:57PM (#56779698)

    . . . the Spanish Soccer Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency....

    " Our chief weapon is mics... mics and GPS... GPS and mics.... Our two weapons are mics and GPS...and IP Addresses ...."

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      . . . the Spanish Soccer Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency....

      " Our chief weapon is mics... mics and GPS... GPS and mics.... Our two weapons are mics and GPS...and IP Addresses ...."

      And a complete inability to play football.

  • You can't determine if someone is broadcasting something with a microphone. You can determine it using an RF receiver.
    • you can pick up tell tails in a radio or tv broadcast audio, to determine for example if a bar has the game on tv

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You can't determine if someone is broadcasting something with a microphone. You can determine it using an RF receiver.

      WRONG.

      You obviously misunderstand the meaning of "broadcast" in the context of the article. In this case "broadcast" has nothing to do with transmission via radio frequencies. In this case "broadcast" refers to a televised sporting event being shown to the public via a screen in a local setting, such as the premises of a bar or restaurant.

      The company which owns the rights to the games which are televised wants to make sure that businesses do not show the games on the TVs which are on the premises of the bus

      • I've never heard anyone ever to refer to this as "broadcasting". Screening, perhaps.
    • a modern phone uses frequency skip keying, and the microphone bits are encoded (read the article) - I challenge you to identify one phone from another and then to identify encoded microphone bits among that. so no, you can't really see who's channeling their microphone.
  • or is /. becoming an echo chamber for Arstechnica?
  • as long as they willing to pay roaming fees!

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      What roaming fees? This is Europe. There are no roaming fees anymore. And if you are outside Europe and have data enabled, you are an idiot that needs to pay.

  • ...and that the app takes special precautions to prevent it from spying on end users. [La Liga's full statement with the "appropriate technical measures to protect the user's privacy" is embedded in Ars' report.]

    They can say 'protect user privacy' all they want. Behind office walls in their offices and meeting rooms, they can decide to do whatever the hell they want with these recordings.

  • Because video of a bunch of people chasing a ball is such a valuable asset a fence must be thrown around it!

  • Stuff this corporate spying nonsense.

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