Your iPhone World Cup app could be a massive privacy risk, experts say

App Store Iphone 13 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

Experts warn that some of the apps specifically built for this year's Qatar World Cup cannot be trusted and represent a security and privacy risk.

With the App Store already host to apps designed to help people attending the Fifa World Cup in Qatar as it kicks off this weekend, privacy experts and international regulators are already warning that some apps collect information far beyond what's needed.

Privacy matters

Politico reports that one app has been shown to collect information on phone calls made by people who have the app installed. However, Germany's data protection commissioner says that the data collected is well beyond what the apps claim.

"One of the apps collects data on whether and with which number a telephone call is made," they 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."

They went further — saying anyone who absolutely must use the apps should do so on a phone that doesn't contain their data.

The Germans aren't alone in sounding the warning bell, either. Norwegian and French agencies have also said things are amiss, with the former saying that it was "alarmed" by the amount of access these apps request.

Two of the apps labeled as spyware by experts are vital to those attending the games in Qatar. One, called Hayya, is being pushed onto those visiting Qatar for the World Cup, while another, called Ehteraz, is needed by anyone who sees a healthcare facility.

With the World Cup set to kick off in just a couple of days and run for weeks, those in the country might have no option but to download the apps as instructed.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.