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ToTok: so the UAE spies on users. Google and Apple remove the app

Totok perhaps not everyone knows it: it is not to be confused with TikTok, the hugely popular app that quickly climbed the charts around the world (it was even earlier this summer), but like TikTok it ended up on the front pages of newspapers for security-related issues.

No class action against data collection without users' consent (this is the case of the Chinese app): with ToTok we speak directly of theft of personal information from the smartphones that this app have installed. Those who receive such data are of concern: the United Arab Emirates. Well yes, the ToTok app, created to chat via text or video exactly as WhatsApp does (which, with Skype, is banned in the country), is actually a sneaky tool by which the Arab country spies on people, tracking everything they can.

ToTok, for example, tracks the location of users through weather forecasts, verifies the contacts saved on the smartphone every time you access the app, has access to microphones, cameras and calendar. Most of the users who downloaded the app reside in the United Arab Emirates, but given the millions of downloads recorded in a few months there are also followers in other areas of the planet, Europe and the USA including. Just in the United States it has recently entered the ranking as one of the most downloaded social apps. It is therefore easy to understand the risk for security and privacy encountered with this service.

The New York Times highlights how several Gulf countries have recently changed their strategy on international espionage methods: if they used to rely on third-party private companies, now they prefer to carry out these activities directly. Behind ToTok there is Breej Holding, society of cyberintelligence which is headed by DarkMatter where several experts linked to national security agencies and the armed forces work. DarkMatter has already been in the FBI's sights for some time, and among its activities there would also be data mining.

Both Google and Apple have removed ToTok from their respective stores.