Compete Network Feature Stories

Federal lawsuit filed against Warriors for spying via their app

A lawsuit has been filed in San Francisco’s federal court against the NBA’s Golden State Warriors alleging that the team app may have been able to listen in on fan conversations any time it was open. The class action suit filed by a New York resident also includes the app’s designers Yinzcam and Signal360 in addition to the Warriors.

The Warriors’ app is designed to offer live scores and fan conversations but the suit alleges that the sound beacon technology embedded in the app uses a smartphone’s microphone anytime the app is running, even if it’s running in the background or if the screen is off. It also contends that the app records smartphone owners’ private conversations and stores them somewhere although no purpose is given in the lawsuit for potential use of the captured information.

If proven, it could be a violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act which prohibits “intentionally intercepting any oral communication or from intentionally using, or endeavoring to use, the contents of any oral communication while knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of an oral communication.”

Although the app requests access to the user’s microphone, the lawsuit asserts that fans aren’t given any idea of how far the granted access will extend. From tech blog Silicon Beat,

The lawyers claim the Warriors app employs new “beacon” technology, which allows it to track where its users are. Beacons placed throughout an area send out certain audio signals, which are picked up by a smartphone’s microphone and used to pinpoint the phone’s location. That information is used to send customers targeted adds[sic] or to glean information about their shopping behaviors.

Lauren Cooley, Signal360’s CEO told Silicon Beat that the company believes this is about people misunderstanding the purpose of the technology, and stated that “Our technology does not intercept, store, transmit, or otherwise use any oral content for marketing purposes or for any other purpose.” 

While many believe it is probably just a design flaw in the app as opposed to any intentionally illegal data gathering, nevertheless it could wind up costing the defendants money in court. What would you do if you discovered an app was collecting your data without your full and complete knowledge?


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