ToTok denies spying allegations, says security and privacy its priority

By Xite - December 26, 2019
The Emirati app, which was billed as a ‘secure way’ to chat or video call and replaced WhatsApp and Skype in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America, was said to be spying on peop....

ToTok messaging and voice calling app that was allegedly spying on the users who installed it on their iOS and Android devices has denied that it was tracking peoples' conversations, movements, relationships, appointments, sounds, and images. The co-founders also said that it did not misuse users’ information, and security and privacy is the company’s priority ‘since day one’. The app was billed as a ‘fast, free, and secure’ way to chat by video or text message, but it was alleged to an Emirati spying tool in a report by The New York Times.

‘In this holiday season of joy and celebration, we would have preferred not to dignify those who manufacture lies with a direct response. But as ToTok co-founders, we are personally compelled to speak up for ourselves and for our users,’ the company said in a statement. It outlined, ‘Here is the fact – since day one, we have built ToTok with user security and privacy as our priority. Don’t just take our word for it. A technical analysis by a former NSA employee has concluded ToTok ‘simply does what it claims to do, and really nothing more... no exploits, no backdoors, and no malware.'

The company said that it respects its users’ privacy and ensures their security. The developers also said that the users of the app have complete control over what data they want to share. ToTok is one of the most downloaded social apps last week in the US, and it was amongst the top 50 free apps in Saudi Arabia, the UK, India, Sweden, and other countries, research firm App Annie said. Google and Apple have removed the app from their respective app stores. Those who have the app installed on their phones will still be able to use it.

‘Our openness, honesty, and transparency are the reasons why ToTok has such a vibrant and loyal user community globally. It is for the same reasons that we are confident Google and Apple will reinstate our app, so the hundreds of thousands of new users who have been waiting will finally be able to join all of us in the ToTok community,’ Giac and Long, ToTok Cofounders, added, and hit out at the ‘distractors’ for promoting ‘fear and hatred’.

‘The shameless fabrication by our distractors cannot be further from the truth. The value of our ToTok company is diametrically opposed to those who promote fear and hatred. While our distractors are bent to divide people, ToTok is determined to break down barriers. We cannot wait to connect more people around the world and bring everyone many exciting new features that we are working on,’ the statement read. 

Citing former employees and law enforcement officials, The New York Times’ report also said that the company is under FBI lens for alleged cybercrimes. Reportedly, the firm behind ToTok is Breej Holding, which is allegedly affiliated with DarkMatter, an Abu Dhabi-based cyberintelligence and hacking firm. DarkMatter was founded in 2014, and it employs Emirati intelligence officials, former US National Security Agency personnel, and former Israeli military intelligence operatives.

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