A fast and so-called secure video and messaging app ToTok recognized as a spy tool from the United Arab Emirates, according to American intelligence assessment officials and the New York Times on 22 December 2019.
ToTok launched a few months ago, has fascinated millions of users all across the world. In the US, it was the most downloaded social app last week. The value proposition and magnetism, ToTok has added, is its availability in the Middle East, where all different messaging and video calling services, like Whatsapp and Skype, are banned. This is one of the reasons for its highly satisfied customer reviews and popularity, especially in the United Arab Emirates.
It is reported that ToTok asks explicitly for permission to access the user device’s camera, photos, location, calendar, microphone, and contacts. According to Patrick Wardle, a former National Security Agency hacker, this is enough information to spy a vast population who is voluntarily offering their details to the company. The data is used by the government of the UAE to keep a record of users’ conversations, activities, and commitments.
In getting fast and easy access, a user may get overlooked or ignore that ToTok does not commit to end-to-end encryption by giving a hint, “We may share your personal data with group companies.”
It has been investigated that a firm behind ToTok, Breej Holding, is directly affiliated with Dark Matters, cyber intelligence and hacking firm on Abu Dhabi. Another technical analysis and American Intelligence assessment highlight ToTok, a linkage with Pax AI, a data-mining firm in Abu Dhabi. A data scientist at PaxAI was also swanking on LinkedIn about creating a “message intelligence platform” that could be able to read billions of messages and will identify specific patterns in user conversations.
On the other hand, ToTok News has written “A letter to the ToTok Community” on Dec22. They show their dedication, customers’ gratitude, and also the announcement for their upcoming new features. They also make sure the availability of the app on their website for new users. In the current situation, they only stated, “ToTok is temporarily unavailable in these two stores due to a technical issue.”
ToTok is removed from the Google Play Store and iOS App Store. Current users can still avail it all features, as before, unless they make it uninstall from their phones.
Featured image: Screenshot/Huawei