Popular chat app accused of being secret spy tool for UAE
The ToTok messaging app is actually a tool the UAE government uses to spy on its people – and the app is gaining traction in the US, according to a report by The New York Times.
Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Skype, which have large user bases in the United States, are partially blocked in the United Arab Emirates, according to The edge. ToTok offered users an alternative but asked for their correspondence, photos and even their locations – which were in fact available to the UAE government, the Times reported.
The Times’ investigation of ToTok included gathering information from U.S. intelligence officials and other experts. The Times also reports that UAE-based cybersecurity firm DarkMatter is secretly behind ToTok, which is run by a company called Breej Holding. ToTok is also linked to artificial intelligence company Pax AI, which is housed in the same office building as the UAE intelligence agency, according to the Times.
The United Arab Emirates and the United States are allies.
The fear of ToTok comes after a backlash against the app of the same name TikTok.
More teens are on TikTok than on FacebookSen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., told Fox News in November.
“Here’s the problem: It’s owned by a Chinese company, and under Chinese law, that means the Communist Party has access to all the data TikTok collects,” Hawley said. “And it picks up a lot, like your phone book, like what you do on your phone, it follows you around the web, maybe your texts. It’s dangerous.”
Meanwhile, TikTok tries to downplay its ties to China as it seeks to expand or even rebrand, The Wall Street Journal reported in November.