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Google and Apple remove ToTok from their store following spying fears

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  • ToTok, a popular chatting platform is accused of being the spying tool of the UAE government.
  • Both Google and Apple have taken it down from its store.
  • Users are advised to uninstall it immediately.

State-linked Emirati publications introduced ToTok in 2019. Since then it has gained much popularity in several countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, India, and Sweden. As of December 2019, the app had nearly two million daily users worldwide.

ToTok offers free messaging, voice calls and video calls just like any other popular messaging services such as WhatsApp and Skype. However, the American officials and the NYT claim that the app works as a spy tool for the United Arab Emirates government.

According to the reports, the UAE government has been tracking user movements with the help of ToTok, using it as intelligence spyware. The app is able to gather the data of all conversations, movements, relationships, appointments, sounds, and images of the users. Using the app can turn against users as their personal data are at risk.

Spyware for UAE

The NYT also claims that the developers of ToTok have been deeply involved with the Darkmatter. To be precise, Darkmatter is an Emirati intelligence company under FBI investigation for cybercrimes.

Unlike other messaging platforms, ToTok makes no claim of end-to-end encryption which makes your personal info vulnerable. It can also track your location while trying to deliver the weather forecast for the day. Moreover, the app has access to your microphones, cameras, calendar, and other phone data.

According to the NYT, the app might be a slightly-customized copy of YeeCall, a Chinese messaging app. Even ToTok mentions in their privacy policy that they can share user data with group companies. Users are therefore unaware of the fact that the app has been breaching their personal data without their consent.

Unavailable on Google and Apple Store

As per the accusation, Google and Apple have removed ToTok from their store on 19 and 20 December. We all know that both of these companies are strict with their security and try to offer the best privacy options to their users.

Google has been continuously updating its security to avoid any data leaking incident in the future. In the midst of all the accusations, we understand why Google and Apple have taken down ToTok from their store.

However, ToTok authorities have denied the fact terming it as a “technical issue”. In a blog post, the company stated that the app will be temporarily unavailable on the Google and Apple stores due to temporary issues.

Indeed, ToTok is temporarily unavailable in these two stores due to a technical issue. While the existing ToTok users continue to enjoy our service without interruption, we would like to inform our new users that we are well engaged with Google and Apple to address the issue.

The ToTok authorities also informed that Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo phone users can continue to enjoy the benefits of the app. The app will also be available on the official website as a solution.

However, to stay on the safe side, American officials are advising the users to refrain from using the app to avoid any data leakage.


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