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Qatar World Cup and the dangers of technology



Please be warned: Qatar monitors the fans and have some laws and rules uncommon for the visitors



21.Nov.22 7:11 AM
By Abigail Richards
Photo Qatar

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Qatar World Cup and the dangers of technology
The World Cup starts Sunday in Qatar. Many fans are already on their way, because on Monday the national teams will play their first match. The supporters have to take into account technical blockages and apps that tap information.

The apps in question are Ehteraz and Hayya. Do not install those apps if you do not have to.

Ehteraz is a Corona tracker and was obliged to enter Qatar until a few weeks ago. Now he is obliged only in some places, for example, in the hospital. Hayya is a World Cup app, which allows visitors to receive ticket information and access the subway for free.

Both apps can read all kinds of information from the phones. This way, Ehteraz can see which apps are on the phone. You might think: that's not possible, but if you have Grindr installed, they see that too.

Grindr is a popular dating app within the LGBTIQ+community. Homosexual acts are punishable in Qatar. What the consequences may be is not known. Although authorities have indicated that everyone is welcome during the World Cup, the governments advise "to take into account" discrimination against LGBTIQ+people.

The AP's advice is to install Ehteraz and Hayya only on a so-called burner phone. That's a phone you don't use for anything else. If you have the apps installed, it is best to delete them immediately after the World Cup. "Preferably also the operating system of your phone, because you do not know what is left behind," says the AP.

Calling via Skype and WhatsApp more difficult in Qatar


It is in Qatar also pay attention when using other apps. For example, be warned to be careful with expressing criticism of Qatari authorities, country and persons on the internet and social media. What could be the result of this, they do not say.

A number of free digital services for (video) calling are blocked in Qatar. So you can't just use FaceTime and Skype. The same applies to calls and video calls via WhatsApp, which require a VPN.

Microsoft reported in 2017 that Skype was blocked in Qatar, but did not give a reason. The companies may not be licensed in the country to provide calling services. That is legally required.

To visit a football match in Qatar, you give up quite a bit of your privacy. Twenty thousand cameras are hanging in the eight stadiums alone, the Telegraph wrote this week. But even outside of that, fans are being monitored.

The cameras in the stadiums can zoom in on everyone present and use artificial intelligence. According to Qatar, they are intended to preserve security. For example, lost children can be found thanks to facial recognition.

The cameras also see it when someone smokes, which is prohibited. With the technology, even emotions can be recorded. If you are angry because the team is not performing well, the men in the control room probably know that too. And not much later, an employee will calm you down.

People traveling to Qatar should think carefully about what they want to protect themselves from. If rules around the use of technology in a country are not entirely clear, you should assume the worst. In that case, I would not bring my iPhone, but an old Nokia. You can't do much with that, but that's how you stay reachable.



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