In times, where WhatsApp and Skype have made instant messaging and video calls super easy and famous, UAE has restricted such messaging services and launched one of its own ToTok Application, as an alternate.
The co-founder of the application has touted ToTok to be an easy and secure way to communicate via video or text. He claims, in a place where famous services like WhatsApp and Skype are banned, entrepreneurs can use ToTok to enhance their business. This software was initially designed to make “people’s digital life easier” according to Giac, the co-developer of the software system.
As soon as the app gained popularity and attracted users in the region of the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America, it was reported as a Spying tool by the New York Times. Some US officials also validated this claim after a classified intelligence assessment.
According to the claims, the application is used by the government of UAE in an attempt to keep a check on and track users of ToTok, their conversation, locations and files being shared or downloaded via the app.
Rendering to last week’s statistics, it was supposedly one of the highest-ranked application, which has been downloaded the most, by the App Annie research firm. However, as soon as the allegations came into light, Google and Apple removed the messaging app from their play store.
This application was being advertised through local media channels, to be used as a substitute for emigrants living in the UAE to contact their loved ones for free. One of the features of the application enables the app to access the users’ phone contacts, to help them to connect with their friends. However, these promotions, features and historical trends of Gulf nations, including Qatar, Emirates and Saudi Arabia, asking private firms to support in hacking activities, have raised suspicions of the allegations to be true.
Surprisingly, there has been no response or any comments on these accusations, from the CIA or Emirati Government. One of the spokespersons of the FBI explains that although there have been no comments from the other party about the specifications of the application, as a responsible authority, they are making the public aware of the related cyber risks they are exposed to through the mechanics of this application.