ToTok app banned after UAE spying links
Millions of people downloaded an app with a similar name. If you accidentally tapped the wrong one, you were spied on from Abu Dhabi.
A popular messaging app is a spying tool used by the United Arab Emirates to track the activities of those who download it, a new report claims.
The app, known as ToTok, is a powerful surveillance tool that’s capable of monitoring every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of its users, The New York Times reported on Sunday. Most of the app’s users are reportedly in the Emirates, but it has grown in popularity in the US, especially among teenagers.
The Times reports the firm behind ToTok, Breej Holding, is actually a front for DarkMatter, an Abu Dhabi-based cyberintelligence and hacking firm employing Emirati intelligence officials, former National Security Agency employees and former Israeli military intelligence agents.
The app was recently removed by Google and Apple.
The charge against ToTok come as more apps face scrutiny over national security concerns.
In October, US senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton sent a letter to the director of national intelligence asking him to probe whether another app with a similar name, TikTok – a very popular Chinese-owned app known for 15-second videos – poses a national security threat to the US.
“With over 110 million downloads in the US alone, TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore,” wrote Mr Schumer and Mr Cotton. “Given these concerns, we ask that the intelligence community conduct an assessment of the national security risks posed by TikTok and other China-based content platforms operating in the US and brief Congress on these findings.”
TikTok has emphasised its independence from China in response to the concerns raised by the senators. However, cybersecurity concerns prompted the US Navy to ban TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices.