Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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by Jason Snell

Ehteraz, the Qatari app that surveils every visitor

Soccer writer Grant Wahl went to Qatar to report a story in advance of this year’s World Cup soccer tournament. Apparently everyone in Qatar needs to install an app that tracks your location at all times in order to do anything, citing Covid safety:

The way the Qatari government explains it, Ehteraz is a Covid-19 app that’s designed for public health. But as anyone who’s seen the app can tell you, Ehteraz is also a tool that the Qatari state can use to monitor your location at any time. And that’s more than a little scary…

On the morning after my second night in quarantine, someone knocked on my door, gave me a Covid rapid test and told me I’d be free to go in 15 minutes if it came up negative. Which it did. But I still couldn’t enter any public buildings in Qatar until my Ehteraz app was working and I could show a green QR code. (A green QR means you’re negative, a yellow one means you’re in quarantine, a red one means you’re positive and a grey one means you’re a suspected positive.)

All the international tourists who are planning on going to the World Cup at the end of the year should be prepared. For the rest of us, this is a good example about how an authoritarian government can use smartphone technology to track everyone’s movements—and make it essentially impossible to opt out.

—Linked by Jason Snell

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