Qatar World Cup apps are privacy nightmares, says EU

Posted:
in iOS edited November 2022
Soccer fans visiting Qatar for the World Cup shouldn't download or install the event's official apps to their iPhone or other devices, EU data protection chiefs claim, due to the immense privacy risk they pose to those who use them.

2022 FIFA World Cup ball
2022 FIFA World Cup ball


Major events like the World Cup often produce apps to help visitors and fans navigate, schedule travel, and find out other things they may need to know while in attendance. Though most of the time these apps are fine, it seems not to be the case for the 2022 World Cup.

Data protection regulators in Europe are warning about risks to user data by installing official Qatar World Cup apps to their smartphones and tablets, reports Politico. The warnings are headed up by claims by Germany that the data collected by the apps "goes much further" than their privacy notices state.

One app collects data on phone calls made on a device, including the phone number, the German regulator said, while another prevents devices from sleeping. "It is also obvious that the data used by the apps not only remain locally on the device, but are also transmitted to a central server," the regulator added in a statement on Tuesday.

Germany went as far as to urge visitors that if it is "absolutely necessary" to use the apps, that they should do it on a black phone separate from their usual device.

Norway offered a similar warning over the access of the apps. "There is a real possibility that visitors to Qatar, and especially vulnerable groups, will be monitored by the Qatari authorities," it said.

Authorities in France added that fans should take "special care" with photos and videos, and to install the apps only just before leaving the country, and to delete them on arrival back home.

French Junior Minister for Digital Jean-Noel Barrot raised privacy regulator CNIL's guidelines in his advice. "In France, thanks to the GDPR, all applications must guarantee the fundamental rights of individuals and the protection of their data. This is not the case in Qatar," the minister said.

In an event marred by controversy since Qatar was awarded it in 2010, it is feared that the data collected by the apps could be used to monitor groups that the authoritarian government deems an issue. Along with a poor human rights record and the bad treatment of the LGBTQ+ community in the country, that fear could be well justified.

Neither Qatar's government, Apple, nor Google have commented on the privacy accusations so far.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    It's just bad politics, the side of good against the side of evil not aligned, as always. I bet with anyone that the apps for the rugby world cup in 2023 and the soccer world cup in 2024 which will take place in France will not be subject to the same warning, as France is getting closer day by day of an undeclared dictatorship.
    watto_cobraJanNL
  • Reply 2 of 14
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,136member
    This is a concern of course, the violation of privacy and LGTBQ rights, etc etc but very much a first world problem in comparison to the thousands of guest worker deaths in constructing the facilities, maybe on the order of 10,000 immigrant workers.

    Their working conditions make a Foxconn iPhone factory seem like a summer camp.

    But because it is for the holy cause of football, it gets a pass.

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/nov/19/qatar-working-conditions-world-cup-guardian-reporting?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
    DAalsethauxioOferelijahgwatto_cobraFileMakerFellertdknox
  • Reply 3 of 14
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,564member
    Why is this not a surprise 
    OferDogpersonwatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 4 of 14
    It's just bad politics, the side of good against the side of evil not aligned, as always. I bet with anyone that the apps for the rugby world cup in 2023 and the soccer world cup in 2024 which will take place in France will not be subject to the same warning, as France is getting closer day by day of an undeclared dictatorship.
    I hope for you that you are simply uninformed. Please educate yourself about Quatar, France, the GDPR, before posting something that is just painfully wrong.

    edit: fixed typo
    edited November 2022 Oferspherictdknox
  • Reply 5 of 14
    Not only the apps are what they are. They buy loyal fans. These have to sign a contract in which they declare to create regularly exclusively positive posts on social media, at the same time report any negative comments, or posts. In return, they receive free plane ticket, accommodation and some game tickets.

    Not only did. Quasar spend roughly 200bn EUR for building7 new stadiums, and renovating one more, built numerous roads and metro lines, all on the back of thousands of disposable workers from abroad. They almost brought the FIFA down bc it could be proven that they bought nearly every vote. And while on shopping tour, they bought PSG, and forever changed the transfer market by being the first to easily pay > 200mEUR for a player. Just because Quatrain is run by one family, that likes to compete with another family from UAE owning, I think Manchester, it is. A country that before detecting world’s largest gas reservoir was poor like a church mouse now plays big league.

    Btw, they also spend millions and millions to the Gaza Strip, interestingly, they routed the money until recently officially through Israel.

    It is also the only country maintaining an official Taliban office outside of Afghanistan.

    I know, source, or it didn’t happen. My sources are all in German; I expect it should be easy to google some articles on the country.
    OferDogpersonsphericwatto_cobratdknox
  • Reply 6 of 14
    It's only a matter of time before dictatorship like Qatar and China force (by law) all visitors to pay for all goods and services in their country using a cryptocurrency, (probably their own local cryptocurrency for which they have full access to your accounts even without an app) and the only app that will work with their cryptocurrency is an app that you get from them. That app will also give them full control over your phone including access to your personal data.

    If Apple is serious about protecting users who visit dictatorships, it should provide a feature in iOS that lets users create a virtual machine of multiple iOS instances on the same phone, and switching from one instance to the other could only be done with a USB-C physical key (or Lightning physical key) that you plug into your device, and which you don't bring into the country that's going to install the spyware on your phone. That way even if the authorities find a way to unlock your phone, they won't get access to your most important data, because they don't have the key and can't force you to obtain it (although they could put you in jail and wait for you to have someone send you the key before they release you from jail, but this won't look good for them. Even this threat could be reduced by placing the key in the hands of a government that has made it illegal to hand the keys over to anyone but the owner. If a determined dictatorship says to you, "we won't release your family until you come back to our country with your phone's physical keys," that won't really work because you could have sanitized your phone after you get your physical key but before you return to the evil country.)

    I suspect Google's Android will provide this feature before Apple's iOS does, in an attempt to show that they have better security features than Apple.

    China has already built most of the infrastructure already to do this. It will probably sell their infrastructure to other dictatorships (like Qatar) who want to copy it.

    Another solution, like Germany recommended in the above article, is to get a burner smart phone for your trip to evil dictatorships. Although even that doesn't solve the problem that they could jail you until someone sends you your real phone from back home.

    Another solution is never travel to evil dictatorships. An even better solution is never even fly over (or travel through) an evil dictatorship because if your plane makes an emergency landing there, they could potentially take your phone and "physically persuade you" to unlock it and install their app before you can leave their country.

    Another solution is to never use a smart phone. Although even that doesn't solve the problem that they could jail you until someone sends you your computer from back home. But at this point in time, that's paranoia. But not everything I've said today is paranoia.
    OferDAalsethwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 14
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,323member
    If this is true then why are these apps even on the App Store How do they pass Apple’s scrutiny?
    wonkothesanewatto_cobrafred1
  • Reply 8 of 14
    lkrupp said:
    If this is true then why are these apps even on the App Store How do they pass Apple’s scrutiny?
    Because Apple obeys all local laws.
    OfersphericFileMakerFellertdknox
  • Reply 9 of 14
    lkrupp said:
    If this is true then why are these apps even on the App Store How do they pass Apple’s scrutiny?
    And that’s the million dollar question.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 14
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,280member
    lkrupp said:
    If this is true then why are these apps even on the App Store How do they pass Apple’s scrutiny?
    And that’s the million dollar question.
    Already answered: local laws. 

    There is stuff on the US App Store that is utterly illegal by German standards, but Apple allows it in the United States because it complies with local privacy laws. 
    edited November 2022 watto_cobraFileMakerFellertdknox
  • Reply 11 of 14
    spheric said:
    lkrupp said:
    If this is true then why are these apps even on the App Store How do they pass Apple’s scrutiny?
    And that’s the million dollar question.
    Already answered: local laws. 

    There is stuff on the US App Store that is utterly illegal by German standards, but Apple allows it in the United States because it complies with local privacy laws. 
    I am surprised that collecting (and transmitting) call data would comply to the App Store Rules.

    Edit: after reading more, “HAnya” and “ Ehteraz” are doing nothing the COP27 app would not do  :D
    edited November 2022
  • Reply 12 of 14
    It's just bad politics, the side of good against the side of evil not aligned, as always. I bet with anyone that the apps for the rugby world cup in 2023 and the soccer world cup in 2024 which will take place in France will not be subject to the same warning, as France is getting closer day by day of an undeclared dictatorship.
    Are you referring to Marine Le Pen potentially winning an election, or are you just being hyperbolic?

    I mean, I'm not a fan of Emmanuel Macron, but to call him a dictator is a bit of a stretch. Also, considering how this débâcle in Qatar is very much also the responsibility of Sarkozy and Platini, you throwing shade at Renaissance politicians, which are actually a little bit to the left of Sarko, is extremely rich. So rich, in fact, I'm surprised you're not telling us to eat de la brioche:D
    edited November 2022 spheric
  • Reply 13 of 14
    So is that the FIFA app we are talking about or World Cup App 2022 or Hayya to Qatar or something else? Strange that no one talks about the app which looks problematic, just keeping up the political discussion.
    fred1
  • Reply 14 of 14
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,788member
    I find the whole thing hilarious. It isn’t as though Qatar pretends to be anything other than what it is.  

    The hypocrisy of FIFA and all the corporates involved of course, stinks just as much as their fake virtue whining.
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