Apple pulls Emirati messaging app ‘ToTok’ for spying on users by UAE government

Mark Mazzetti, Nicole Perlroth, and Ronen Bergman for The New York Times:

It is billed as an easy and secure way to chat by video or text message with friends and family, even in a country that has restricted popular messaging services like WhatsApp and Skype.

But the service, ToTok, is actually a spying tool, according to American officials familiar with a classified intelligence assessment and a New York Times investigation into the app and its developers. It is used by the government of the United Arab Emirates to try to track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those who install it on their phones… The development of ToTok, experts said, showed that the governments can cut out the intermediary to spy directly on their targets, who voluntarily, if unwittingly, hand over their information…

When The Times initially contacted Apple and Google representatives with questions about ToTok’s connection to the Emirati government, they said they would investigate. On Thursday, Google removed the app from its Play store after determining ToTok violated unspecified policies. Apple removed ToTok from its App Store on Friday and was still researching the app, a spokesman said. ToTok users who already downloaded the app will still be able to use it until they remove it from their phones

MacDailyNews Take: Some of these governments are positively brazen. If you want to message, use a secure, end-to-end encrypted service like Apple’s iMessage via Apple’s Messages app! Note: Google’s wannabe Messages app is not end-to-end encrypted.


    1. Cynic,
      “Does WhatsApp end to end encryption is really secured?
      WhatsApp end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what’s sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp. Your messages are secured with locks, and only the recipient and you have the special keys needed to unlock and read your messages.”

      But I doubt it since Facebook, who is in between and whose lifeblood is selling your info., owns it.

  1. Use Signal. Period.

    Facebook has stated they are putting or have put a backdoor into WhatsApp for the purpose of content monitoring. WhatsApp transmission are secure, but your content is being monitored through a side channel.

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