18.6 million documents leaked in the football industry
football documents hacked

18.6 million documents leaked in the football industry

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Data leaks have been on an upward trend in recent years. In what’s been described as an ‘Edward Snowden-type of leak’, the professional football industry became one of the latest victims of a data leak at the end of last year.

And with it being the football industry, it’s understandably big news, and has caused quite a stir!

Size of the football data leak

Late last year, German news source Der Spiegel revealed that a group of cyber-hackers aptly named “Football Leaks” managed to retrieve 1.9 TB of data – the equivalent of 18.6 million documents. The leaked information included secret agreements between football clubs and players, and included information that could tarnish a footballer’s reputation and ruin possibly even careers.

Footballers involved

Der Spiegel reports that within the mix are footballers such as Christiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil. The leaked data doesn’t seem to be focused on their personal information as such, but it does reveal that players have apparently been reportedly taking advantage of various tax laws.

Tax evasion is reportedly not an uncommon practice in the football industry. A Barcelona court found Lionel Messi guilty of three counts of fraud, and more recently, Ronaldo has been forced to reveal his overseas assets worth £191 million. Ronaldo’s football club, Real Madrid, has had to come to his defence in light of some serious allegations thrown his way.

European Commission’s response

Following the leak by the hacker group “Football Leaks”, the European Commission is set to propose anti-tax legislation this year. This follows a string of media reports accusing footballers of misusing tax havens to manage their excess earnings.

The Economic Affairs Commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, said:

“I am very shocked that those who are lucky enough to earn often very high salaries can avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”

EU privacy rights

Because the limelight has been on the footballers’ alleged wrongdoing, there is little media on the fact that their data privacy rights have been infringed. Currently, the EU has a Data Protection Directive, which is a regime that protects personal data and is part of EU privacy and human rights laws. However, things are set to change on the EU privacy horizon. The European Commission has introduced a new EU privacy law; the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which will be enforced from 25 May 2018.

More leaks on the horizon

Der Spiegel have said they will continue to reveal more of the leaked information. A man named ‘John’, who is believed to be the mastermind behind “Football Leaks”, didn’t want to ‘merely publish a player contract here and disclose a bank account statement there’ – he apparently wanted to share the whole treasure trove, according to Der Spiegel.

The information is thought to have taken up eight hard drives and included documents, emails, excel spreadsheets, and photos which detail original contracts containing secret agreements.

John’s motivations behind leaking the data are unknown as he didn’t demand money from Der Spiegel.

Its believed his motivations could be similar to that of Edward Snowden; to shed light on an alleged corrupt system. By doing so, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the leaked information has potential infringed hundreds and/or thousands of privacy rights.

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