The US Government is now allegedly suggesting the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is using a popular messaging app to spy on individuals around the world.
According to the New York Times, Government officials have suggested the UAE Government is using a new messaging app known as ToTok to snoop on individuals. Citing classified briefings from current and former intelligence employees, as well as its own analysis, the NYT is suggesting the app can be linked to DarkMatter, a cybersecurity company some has said is a front for UAE intelligence activities.
Although the app is only a couple of months old, it has proven to be very popular around the world partly thanks to it not being subject to the same geographical restrictions as WhatsApp and Skype. It has risen through the ranks and has a huge number of positive reviews, fuelling the increasing popularity of the app.
The app itself is interested in quite a broad range of information, most notably the devices address book, location of the user and content of conversations including images and videos which have been shared. It doesn’t seem to dig deeper into other features of the devices, but this is more than enough information to keep intelligence agencies happy for the moment.
And while it is not uncommon for the US Government to shout and scream about foreign Governments spying on its citizens without proof, this seems to be a slightly different case. Both Google and Apple have now removed the app from their own app stores. There will of course be ways and means to download the app, though these are the simplest routes.
This is an important aspect of the story. Google and Apple are both money-making machines. These are companies which are not drawn into the isolationist and ‘patriotic’ cries of the US Government. The propaganda is usually ignored if there is an opportunity to create profit, though the fact the duo have dropped the app suggests there is some credibility to the claims.