Official FIFA World Cup apps raise privacy concerns

Official FIFA World Cup apps raise privacy concerns

As the FIFA World Cup 2022 kicks into high gear, privacy experts have raised the alarm about the two apps required to attend the World Cup festivities – the official Hayya World Cup app and the Ehteraz Covid tracking application.

Ehteraz is a Covid-19 tracking app, while Hayya is the official World Cup app used to grant access to stadiums and the free metro in Qatar.

After analyzing the apps’ access permissions, the French data protection authority CNIL found that the apps put fans’ privacy and data security at risk.

According to the CNIL, app permissions allow Qatari authorities to read and edit content, and even make direct calls from the phones of visiting football fans.

The general prognosis is not good

Other European regulators and privacy experts have echoed these concerns. After all, Qatar’s authoritarian digital surveillance is no secret.

“It’s not my job to give travel advice, but personally I would never bring my mobile phone when visiting Qatar,” wrote Øyvind Vasaasen, security manager at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation ( NRK).

“They go way overboard in terms of data saved and used,” says Naomi Lintvedt, a researcher at the University of Oslo Law School, who also reviewed the apps. “They get far too broad access to modify and support your mobile phone features, which seems totally unnecessary.”

Downloading both apps to your device allows Qatari officials to:

  • Get your exact location, plus the location of all phones near you.
  • Extract your personal data from the device, as well as information from other apps on your device.
  • Make phone calls.
  • Unlock your screen.
  • Prevent your device from going into sleep mode.
  • View your network connections.
  • Recover anything on your phone.
  • Edit all content on your phone.

“Essentially, it’s clear that the app is taking end-user data for more reasons than those expressed by the given consent button.” Tom Lysemose Hansen, CTO and co-founder of app security firm Promon, told The Register.

Hansen adds: “…they will most likely use these apps to retrieve all your contacts, check your call and text history, track your location via the device’s GPS and radio interfaces (bluetooth and wifi) and possibly plunder your contacts. on social networks.

Protect yourself from Qatari surveillance

The CNIL has made some suggestions to help fans protect themselves from spying on Qatar World Cup apps. These include using a blank phone for the duration of the visit and deleting apps as soon as you get home.

“Particular attention must be paid to photos, videos or digital works which could put you in difficulty with regard to the legislation of the country visited”, added the spokesperson for the CNIL.

In addition to online surveillance, some 15,000 cameras monitor crowds using facial recognition. While organizers say the cameras are meant to keep footballers and fans safe, Qatar’s dismal privacy and human rights record suggests that such surveillance could also have other consequences. Goals.

Football fans in Qatar also face other online threats. A recent report by cybersecurity firm Digital Shadows claims that cybercriminals are also aiming to profit from the Qatar World Cup. Tactics may include using malicious domains impersonating official World Cup websites and apps to phish data. That’s why it’s best to always check the URL you open to see if it looks correct.

Stay safe at the 2022 World Cup

It is still unclear what the authorities in Qatar plan to do with all the permissions requested by their apps. All requests for official comment have so far been ignored.

The bottom line? If you’re in Qatar for the World Cup, you should take steps to protect yourself from spying and other online risks.

The only way to limit this invasion of privacy if you are attending the 2022 FIFA World Cup is to use a burner phone, never provide more information than absolutely necessary, decline collecting data where possible and generally practicing good cyber hygiene.

You can use Private Internet Access to encrypt your traffic and hide your IP address, but that won’t help apps that have been given such broad permissions.


Is there an app for the 2022 World Cup?

The two apps you need to attend the World Cup festivities in Qatar are the official World Cup app Hey and Covid tracking app Ehteraaz. Be warned, however, as both have been flagged by privacy experts as possible spyware for local authorities.

Are 2022 FIFA World Cup apps dangerous?

Not if you entrust the Qatari authorities with the keys to your digital life. Both apps have raised concerns among privacy experts because of the extensive permissions they require, including tracking your location, making calls on your behalf, and deleting photos and videos.

It’s unclear how the local authorities plan to use all the permissions fans give them when downloading the apps. But if you’re in Qatar for the World Cup, you should try to reduce your exposure and protect yourself against espionage and other online risks.

Bypass health monitoring with PIA VPN. While we can’t protect you from in-app tracking, we’ll encrypt your traffic so it’s unreadable even if it falls into the wrong hands. Get a PIA VPN and stay safe online.

Can you avoid in-app tracking on your smartphone?

No. Once connected, it is impossible to prevent Smartphone applications from collecting your data,

You can, however, limit what they get by:
1. Use disposable email and “burner phone” not linked to other accounts.
2. Never offer more information than absolutely necessary.
3. Opt out of data collection in privacy and security settings.
4. Check the app’s privacy policy to get an idea of ​​who they might work with.

To finish, use Private Internet Access. While a VPN can’t stop apps from tracking you once you connect to their service, they encrypt your traffic between apps and across other services. This goes a long way in protecting you from tracking and surveillance.

Does PIA protect you from data collection?

No, not from in-app data collection, but a VPN like PIA protects all other data leaving your device. This makes your data useless for hackers and trackers and protects you on public WiFi.

If you’re in Qatar for the FIFA World Cup, it’s a good idea to always connect to PIA VPN before using public Wi-Fi, as local authorities may be listening to your connection.

Our automatic Wi-Fi protection feature activates the second you enter a free Wi-Fi zone, so you don’t have to do anything.

Try PIA risk-free with our 30-day money-back guarantee, and if our VPN doesn’t make your World Cup that much safer, get a full refund.

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