Google has once again removed the chat app ToTok, which is allegedly an espionage tool for the United Arab Emirates, from the Play Store.
The app was previously pulled from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store in December, shortly before The New York Times published a report about it. Google quietly reinstated the app in January. The app appears to have remained unavailable on the App Store.
Citing a classified intelligence assessment by American officials, The Times last year investigated the close ties between ToTok’s developers and the UAE’s intelligence agency.
One digital security expert in the Middle East, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss powerful hacking tools, said that senior Emirati officials told him that ToTok was indeed an app developed to track its users in the Emirates and beyond.
ToTok was allegedly used by the country to “track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound, and image of those who install it on their phones.” This approach presents governments with a more direct form of surveillance that does not require comprising a target’s accounts or devices.
MacDailyNews Take: Why did Google ever reinstate it in the Play Store the first place?
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. — MacDailyNews, December 23, 2019