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UAE ToTok messaging app removed by Apple and Google

Users suspect the spy app.

The mobile messaging application ToTok, developed by a company in the United Arab Emirates and which has recently become popular in the Middle East and elsewhere, was deleted from the application stores of Google and Apple after suspicion of spying of users.

In an investigation published on Sunday, December 22, the New York Times accuses the UAE intelligence services of having direct access to the messages and video conversations exchanged on ToTok, as well as the geolocation data, the contact list, the cameras, microphones and phone calendar. The American newspaper draws on American intelligence sources and cybersecurity experts.

ToTok, launched this year, is developed by “Breej Holding”, which is in reality a front company for DarkMatter, a cyber intelligence and hacking firm linked to the UAE government, according to the Times. A US intelligence report cited by the daily would also link ToTok to Pax AI, an artificial intelligence company headquartered in the same building as the UAE listening agency in Abu Dhabi.

In a message published on Monday on its website to respond to “Rumors”, ToTok does not deny any of these accusations, and essentially talks about its recent success. The company claims to respect “local and international legal obligations” in the area of ​​privacy, without saying which ones.

ToTok has confirmed that it is no longer available on the Apple Store and the Google Play Store, but attributes this unavailability to “a technical problem”. Google contradicted this assertion, confirming to AFP that the application was deleted “for a rule problem.” Patrick Wardle, former hacker of the American spy agency National Security Agency (NSA) interviewed by the Times, wrote on a blog that the “genius” of ToTok seemed to be that the application operated legitimately, since users themselves opened the doors to their most personal content, without realizing that they were then potentially exploited by an intelligence service.

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