Processing Players’ Data Fairly and Legally – Sports Analytics and Big Data Under the GDPR

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London, UK – From analytics to big data to wearable tech, technology’s impact on the world of sport has grown exponentially. The legal implications for sport clubs, organisations, and the athletes themselves have never been more significant, nor as difficult to parse and navigate.

Here is where LawInSport enters the game. Based in the UK, LawInSport is the world’s largest online sports law resource, with commentary and analysis on a range of legal issues and developments in sports, from governance and anti-corruption, to dispute resolution, to brand protection, to protecting the rights and welfare of athletes. At the 3rd edition of their annual “Understand the Rules of the Game” conference on September 7th and 8th in London, one of the key panels brought lawyers and sports data analytics experts together to discuss  the confluence of sports analytics and data protection, particularly from the perspective of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As the panellists noted, with both on-field and off-field data being increasingly incorporated into sports analytics, it will be incumbent on teams, clubs, and organisations to ensure athletes are provided the required transparency and access to data processing the GDPR requires. In addition, diligently organising records of processing activities and completing data protection impact assessments for the processing of sensitive health data will be of enormous importance for GDPR compliance. The challenges are even greater where youth sports clubs utilize the potential behind data analytics, as such practices and data processing require strict conformance to parental consent requirements, as well as the same transparency, access and data protection rights afforded more senior players, including the right to be restrict processing and the right to be forgotten.

eTERA had the pleasure of sponsoring the coffee break session immediately following the Sports Analytics panel, a key scheduling slot for a data management and legal consulting company to discuss GDPR compliance challenges and solutions with event attendees in greater detail. Many thanks to our gracious hosts at LawInSport for that opportunity, as well as the networking sessions at the conference, which provided many opportunities to collaborate with legal minds/sports fans from the UK, US, Europe, India, Bangladesh, and elsewhere.

eTERA’s services centred on GDPR compliance automation, which integrates solutions across applications and processes, is truly an effort to embed legal and security expertise into sports analytics technology, and to assist in tackling the heavy lifting of GDPR compliance. Moreover, our client-tailored consent forms and procedures  can address the fractious issue of consent under the Regulation.

As the Panel noted, in order for consent to provide the legal basis for processing data under the GDPR, it must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous, a high bar for most processing activities and difficult to employ for sports analytics, as consent can be revoked at any time (and cannot, by  definition, be required in order for an athlete to play). Consent under the GDPR faces even higher scrutiny where health data or data of minors in concerned, as these categories of sensitive data require explicit, written consent for processing, an even higher bar. Bring in the fact that consent can be revoked at any time, and it becomes clear that having a streamlined, tailored process for consent procedures, processes and oversight will be imperative for most organisations handling data of EU individuals, as well as nearly all teams, clubs, and sports organisations, whether amateur, professional, or somewhere in between.

eTERA had a great opportunity at the conference to kick around ideas with LawInSport’s stakeholders, legal experts and sport enthusiasts of all stripes, and we look forward to the chance to do so again. In the meantime, look for us to continue to closely track developments around sports analytics and data protection in the context of the GDPR, especially as the shot clock runs down on May 25th 2018, when the regulation officially goes into effect.

Written by Ryan T. Costello, Esq, CIPP/E, Operations Manager, eTERA Consulting in Europe.  Ryan can be reached at

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