Apps Related To The World Cup Violate Your Privacy

At the moment the World Cup is just full of controversy due to the human rights record of Qatar. And this news from Politico won’t help with that. EU officials are warning that visitors should not download the official World Cup apps due to the fact that they are privacy nightmares:

European data protection regulators have been lining up to warn about the risks posed by Qatar’s World Cup apps for visitors, with Germany’s data protection commissioner being the latest. In a statement Tuesday, the Germans said data collected by two Qatari apps that visitors are being asked to download “goes much further” than the apps’ privacy notices indicate. 

“One of the apps collects data on whether and with which number a telephone call is made,” the German authority said. “The other app actively prevents the device on which it is installed from going into sleep mode. 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 Norwegian and French data protection agencies have already issued similar advice. 

The Norwegian regulator on Monday said it was “alarmed” by the extensive access the apps require. “There is a real possibility that visitors to Qatar, and especially vulnerable groups, will be monitored by the Qatari authorities,” it said. 

The French agency said fans should take “special care” with photos and videos, and recommends that travelers install the apps just before departure and delete them as soon as they return to France.

The French government — despite having close ties to Qatar — echoed the CNIL’s advice on Tuesday. “In France, thanks to the [General Data Protection Regulation], all applications must guarantee the fundamental rights of individuals and the protection of their data. This is not the case in Qatar,” tweeted Junior Minister for Digital Jean-Noël Barrot, referencing the privacy regulator’s guidelines.

Here’s the problem. Visitors have been asked by Qatar to download and install these apps. Thus this really makes Qatar look bad. And on top of that, Apple and Google are the ones serving up these apps. Did this just slip through or did they know about the issues with these apps and they simply looked the other way? I for one would love to know the answer to that question as it makes me question their app review processes.

In any case, it takes an event that really has bad vibes all around it, and amps that up to 11.

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