Firewall: Protecting Sports Analytics and Data Through the Law

The hacking of the Houston Astros’ “Ground Control” database and accompanying theft of scouting data by a St. Louis Cardinals employee in 2015 was both stunning and predictable at the time same. As professional sports teams increasingly invest in analytics to gain competitive advantages, the quality of those analytics improves and gives rise to valuable trade secrets. Even when using the best network security systems, sports teams, like every other kind of company, are vulnerable to hacking. This dynamic means there are strong incentives to access other teams’ analytics and, through hacking, the means to do so. Computer skills are not always needed to obtain such information: teams may also hire other teams’ officials to acquire crucial knowledge. Michael McCann and Roger Ford, who both teach at the University of New Hampshire School of Law and write about sports and technology law, will discuss these challenges. They will also explore how teams can use legal instruments–namely through privacy, intellectual property, and employment laws–to minimize risk.

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