Breaking News! The Indianapolis Colts – yes, those Indianapolis Colts – are being sued for violating fans privacy. The incident stems from a discovery made by a plaintiff, that the smartphone app had an option he was not aware of, recording his conversations via the microphone on the phone, whether he was aware or not.
The team’s organization claims the app was designed to collect data for targeted ads and can be activated for recording, even while the app was idle and the phone in lock mode. The app was developed by a company called Linzcam, and Cincinnati-based Lisnr, “…which allegedly helped the Colts integrate "beacon technology" into the app.”
The technology has been around for several years and uses low-frequency tones for a new area named “proximity marketing”. Similar technology is used by the radio industry to track listeners who are not listening directly to broadcasts, but are in proximity of broadcasts, and thus exposed to signals with low-frequency identifiers. “According to CEO (Rodney) Williams, LISNR’s technology is in over 6 million downloaded apps, and the company executed over 30 campaigns in 2013. This business is subscription based in that customers are charged based on how many tones or beacons they want to install, what type of content they want triggered, and the length of the campaign.”
The lead defendant, Alan Rackemann, claims a 4-year history of surreptitious recording, and thousands of violated fans for the class action. The alleged violations would come under the realm of the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986. "Consumers' microphones were activated no matter where they were — in church, in their cars, at work or in their homes," without any message or other indication that the customers were being recorded, Rackemann says.
Neither the Indianapolis Colts organization, nor Yinzcam, the company who assisted with the app for the team, had any comment on the class action. A similar suit was brought against the NBA team, Golden State Warriors.