PITTSBURGH – The chief executive officer of Lisnr Inc. - one
of three parties along with the Indianapolis Colts and Yinzcam named
as defendants in a class action lawsuit claiming that a mobile app can listen
in on the user’s conversations without consent - said the lawsuit contains a lot
of false information.
“This is just really a bad lawsuit,” Lisnr CEO Rodney
Williams told the Pennsylvania Record.
“The allegations are false for a lot of reasons.”
Williams said the Colts app simply tries to help the user
enjoy the game. In addition, he said Lisnr’s service is not a beacon, which
allows audio to be recorded. Instead, he said, Lisnr is similar to Bluetooth or
“It’s not an app that has your data,” Williams said. “The
only thing that’s relevant is whether you’re at the game and watching the
Williams said the Colts started using the app in 2014, and
that the organization is not at fault.
In addition, Williams said defendant Yinzcam is not the app
developer, as was claimed in the lawsuit.
Williams said the lawyer group that is representing the
plaintiffs is not new to this sort of lawsuit and that the group “made a
reputation for this.”
“It’s unfortunate that the lawsuit is hurting the industry,”
In the lawsuit filed Oct. 14 in the U.S. District Court for
the Western District of Pennsylvania, the plaintiffs allege that the app runs
afoul of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act because it allows personal
phone conversations to be heard.
The suit claims the information gleaned from
the private conversations is then used without the customer’s knowledge or
consent for advertising purposes.
Alan Rackemann is named as the lead plaintiff in the class
action. He alleges that the defendants knew the app could activate the
microphone on his smartphone, giving them the ability to listen in on his
conversations without his consent.
According to the complaint, the app, which allows Colts fans
to receive team-specific statistics and news and other relevant information,
uses Lisnr’s software to pinpoint the customer’s exact location by activating the
smartphone’s microphone. The complaint alleges that the information is then
sent to the Colts so the team can send location-based advertisements,
promotions and other content.
The plaintiff alleges in the lawsuit that, once the
microphone is activated by the app, it records all audio with no way for users
to opt out of the recording.
Since beacon tracking is known to be “inherently invasive,”
industry standards dictate that consumers be given the ability to opt in to
beacon tracking, the lawsuit said. That option is often accomplished through
the phone’s protocol or through the developer’s mobile app itself.
Since Lisnr requires a microphone to continuously listen for
its audio signals, the plaintiff alleges “Lisnr involuntarily enlists thousands
of sports fans that have downloaded and installed apps from their favorite
“Unfortunately for consumers, defendants never inform them
that their smartphones are being turned into listening devices, nor do they
ever seek consent,” the lawsuit said.
Rackemann is represented by David S. Senoff and Anapol Weiss of Anapol Weiss in Philadelphia.