ToTok is once again available on the Google Play Store, after being removed earlier on the count of being used for government spying. However, it is yet to make its comeback on Apple’s App Store.
ToTak is a popular smartphone app developed by a UAE based company. It was launched back in 2019 and offered users free calling and messaging services in countries like the United Arab Emirates where internet calling services like Skype, WhatsApp and more are blocked.
Dear ToTok Community,
Your ToTok Team pic.twitter.com/aYFL5iiLIH
— ToTok (@ToTokMessenger) January 4, 2020
Both Google and Apple removed the app from their respective app stores after The New York Times had reported that ToTak allowed the UAE government to track conversations, movements and other details of the people who use the app. To which the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority responded by saying that “the country’s laws prohibit any kind of data breach and unlawful interception.”
Even though the app is once again been made available in the Google Play Store, Google has listed a number of ‘updates’ to the app, which include requesting access to permissions and data and a newly designed dialogue to ask authorisation of accessing and syncing your contact list.
In a statement to AFP, Apple said that “ToTok was removed from its App Store pending a review”, whereas, Google responded by saying, the app was taken down “for a policy issue.”
Patrick Wardle, the security researcher that assisted The New York Times in this report stated, “ToTok was a part of a mass surveillance operation, which provided in-depth insight in a large percentage of the country’s population.”
ToTok tricked its users into handing over the location and private data access to the app, helping them provide data maps of every user to the government according to Wardle. He said that the app was bolstered by fake reviews, which help it grow in popularity.