The NBA team Golden State Warriors is urging a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the team's mobile app, which incorporates beacon technology, illegally eavesdrops on users.
"While Plaintiff goes to great lengths to portray the beacon technology as some sinister form of surveillance, the reality could not be more different," the Warriors, along with app developer Yinzcam and beacon technology company Signal360, argue in new court papers. "The app does not 'listen' to human communications in any sense."
The papers come in response to a class-action complaint filed in September by New York resident LaTisha Satchell. She alleged that the app turns on people's microphones, and then records conversations and other audio whenever it's running, even if people aren't actively using it. Satchell accused the companies of violating the federal wiretapping law by intercepting her private conversations without consent.
Among other features, the app sends offers to fans when they pass concession stands, and notifies users about the possibility of seat upgrades in Oracle Arena -- the team's home stadium in Oakland, California. To accomplish this, the app tracks users' physical locations via beacons, which transmit out audio signals that are picked up by phones' microphones, according to Satchell's complaint.
But the Warriors and other companies counter in a motion to dismiss that the app only detects high-frequency signals, which are inaudible. "The complaint does not identify any oral communication that was allegedly 'listened to' by defendants," the companies say in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, California. "Furthermore, the complaint does not allege, because it is not true, that the App ever caused any audio data of any kind (let alone the contents of an oral communication) to be transmitted beyond plaintiff’s phone to any server or device controlled by any defendant."
The Warriors and other companies also argue that the lawsuit should be dismissed on the grounds that Satchell didn't suffer any "concrete" harm as a result of using the app.
"Plaintiff does not allege that defendants somehow intruded on any recognized privacy interest," the companies argue. "She does not allege, for example, that the app allowed the defendants (or anyone else) to ever come into possession of, or to have access to, any of her private conversations."
U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White is scheduled to hold a hearing in the matter in January.