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Going to the World Cup? Be Cautious of Qatari Apps

Becky Nicholson

Senior Data Privacy Consultant

Becky is part of the team at Bridewell which delivers General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Privacy services to organisations globally. A highly-qualified data privacy expert, Becky holds accreditations from CIPP/E, CIPM, is a OneTrust Certified Professional and a Certified ISO 27001 Lead Auditor. With Bridewell, she has assisted organisations to embed data protection into the full lifecycle of projects from planning and design through to management and governance. Becky has always managed to address the complex privacy challenges presented across multiple industries such as pharmaceutical, car manufacturing, local government, tourism, finance, not-for-profit, clean energy and investments.

It’s exciting times for Wales and England fans travelling to support their team at the Football World Cup in Qatar on Sunday. Yet, the two mandatory apps required by Qatari authorities for entry to the country, Etheraz and Hayya, are not only privacy breaches waiting to happen but are, in short, spyware.

Data Protection Authorities from Germany, Norway and France have carried out analysis on the apps and have concluded that both apps probably go much further than the privacy notices say they do. 

The Hayya app monitors the users location, whilst the Etheraz app can be used to retrieve personal information from users mobile devices. One of the apps collects information about telephone calls and the numbers to which the calls are made. The other app includes software that actively prevents the device going into ‘sleep mode’. As such, information remains locally on the device as well as being transferred to a central server, highly likely to be within Qatar.

Whilst it cannot be determined what these apps actually do or what the users personal data will possibly be used for, it is clear they are spyware.  Visitors to Qatar, especially vulnerable groups, will be monitored by the authorities there.

What to Do if Travelling to the World Cup?

  • Only install the apps if absolutely necessary and delete all personal data from your phone BEFORE downloading them.
  • Take a blank, old or re-set smartphone.
  • Use a burner phone.


Lastly, pob lwc Cymru and good luck England.

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