COP27 app gives Egypt’s Sisi access to every move attendees make

© Stefan Rousseau, AP

Egyptian authorities have unveiled a COP27 application to "help" participants at the climate change summit in Sharm El Skeikh, which ends on November 18. But NGOs and cybersecurity experts warn that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime can very easily and effectively use the app to surveil attendees, including top diplomats and Egyptian activists.

The 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, which began on Sunday, November 6 in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El Sheikh, is a summit under tight surveillance. Human rights groups and cybersecurity experts believe the Egyptian application made available to COP27 participants is a weapon of massive espionage for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime.

"It’s not the official UN application that’s the problem; it’s the one developed by the Egyptian government that bothers us," explained Katharina Rall, senior environment researcher at Human Rights Watch, who participated in the NGO’s investigation into the repressive measures put in place by Egypt ahead of COP27.

The Egyptian app, which was rolled out on October 24, is supposed to "improve the COP27 experience for all participants". It allows users to manage flight and hotel reservations, get information about Covid-19, and provides agendas for on-site meetings as well as a calendar of negotiations and roundtables.

The Egyptian authorities have thus developed the perfect little cyber spy that is difficult to get rid of and that, in addition, steals the user’s consent.


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