People looking to attend the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar are at massive risk from the two apps Qatari authorities are asking them to install. Foreigners visiting the country are required to install the official world cup app Hayya and those visiting healthcare facilities are required to install an infection-tracking app Ehteraz.
Both apps pose a serious privacy threat to users as pointed out by multiple European data protection regulators with Germany’s data protection commission being the latest. The BfDI claims that the apps collect far more data than their privacy notes state.
Datatilsynet reports that the Norwegian Data Protection Authority also stated that the apps required alarmingly excessive access. It also claimed to not know what the apps actually do or for what purposes they’re collecting user data. The French CNIL seconds this, despite the French government’s close ties to Qatar.
All three authorities have released a series of precautions for travellers attending the world cup. These include not giving the apps access to your location or other data, only installing them on arrival and deleting them immediately after departure and even carrying a blank phone to install the app should the authorities force attendees to do so.
The apps are available on both the Apple and Google app stores. With an expected turnaround of nearly 1.5 million attendees, the apps can allow large-scale surveillance of most if not all visitors. NRK reports that experts have labelled both apps as spyware as they provide the Qatari government with access to people’s data in addition to the ability to access and modify content and even make direct phone calls.
The 2022 world cup, a premiere event, has been clouded with controversy ever since Qatar was awarded the tournament back in 2010 with the country’s poor human rights records, treatment of the LGBTQ+ and migrant workers as well as bribery and corruption charges all heavily criticised by activists, politicians and football associations alike.
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