ZD Tech: Why CNIL is warning French fans traveling to Qatar to leave their smartphones at home

Hello everyone and welcome to ZD Tech, ‘s daily editorial podcast. I Guillaume Serries and today I will explain to you why CNIL is warning French fans traveling to Qatar to leave their smartphones at home.

Do you still want to support Les Bleus in Qatar? I say “always want to” because as the opening match of the World Cup approaches this Sunday, debate is heating up on the merits of awarding this competition to this country.

On the technical side and protecting personal data, there seem to be some concerns. You should already know that in Qatar, filming and photography on a smartphone is prohibited in government buildings, schools, homes for migrant workers, places of worship and hospitals.

Mobile app leak

But that’s not all. The French CNIL (National Commission for Computing and Liberties) recommends that supporters travel with an empty smartphone or use an old, rebooted phone. Take even a prepaid disposable phone. So why ?

Yes, because the Qatari government strongly recommends that foreign citizens who are on their territory install two mobile applications that, according to cybersecurity experts, look like spyware.

The first app, called Hayya, lets you navigate and get to matches. The second app, called Ehteraz, allows you to keep track of the Covid-19 epidemic. And these two mobile apps will use the data stored on your smartphones in abundance. Even worse, these two apps will allow you to delete or change the contents of your phone and even, like the icing on the cake, make calls.

GDPR does not exist in Qatar

“One of the apps collects data to find out if a phone call was made and from which number,” warns the German data protection authority. “Another app is preventing the device it’s on from going to sleep. »

Of course, the general terms of use of these applications are explicit on this point. But yeah, you don’t read them either. French Digital Minister Jean-Noel Barraud, for his part, insisted that, unlike France, the GDPR does not exist in Qatar.

Hence the idea put forward by CNIL to travel with a smartphone devoid of any personal information. And if you ever want to take your smartphone to Qatari stadiums, the French privacy police advise – and I quote – “limit system authorizations to only those strictly necessary.”

Only connect to secure Wi-Fi networks

The CNIL also advises travelers to install apps just before they leave and uninstall them as soon as they return to France, or only connect to secure Wi-Fi networks.

“In any case, special vigilance is required in relation to content that could put you in a difficult position in terms of the legislation of the country you are visiting,” adds the data protection authority. And to illustrate the moment with LGBT+ content banned in the country.

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