Fans Sue Golden State Warriors for Mobile Eavesdropping
Golden State Warrior fans filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against the team and the companies who developed the team’s mobile app. The plaintiffs allege that the app unlawfully records audio from the microphone without user notification or permission, and that while the app is marketed for providing live stats, scores, and standings, it also tracks users through audio-based beacon technology for the purpose of marketing and advertising. The app determines a user’s precise physical location by secretly activating the user’s smartphone’s built-in microphone and listening for nearby audio beacons. With the microphone activated, the app listens to and records all audio within range, including conversations. If the app hears one of the beacons, the app may display an ad to the user. The app instantly turns on the microphone whenever the app is open and continues to listen whenever the app is running, even if the app is only running in the background. The app continues listening until it is closed either by a shutoff of the phone or a hard close of the app.
The plaintiffs allege that the defendants do not allow users to opt-in to the use of beacon technology, do not inform the users that their smartphones are being turned into listening devices, do not seek user consent, and do not even disclose that the app uses audio beacon technology. The plaintiffs also allege violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which prohibits any person from 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 oral communication. The plaintiffs seek injunctive relief prohibiting defendants from listening to and recording oral communications, monetary damages of up to $10,000 per class member, and punitive damages.