ToTok was recently removed from both Apple and Google’s app stores over allegations it was being used by the United Arab Emirates government to spy on users. In an interview with the Associated Press, co-creator Giacomo Ziani defended the app and denied it was a tool for spying.
ToTok was released only months ago, and quickly rose to become one of the most popular social apps. Helping drive its popularity was the fact that it was the only app offering internet calling that was allowed in the UAE. Competing apps, such as FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype and others are not allowed.
In a report by the New York Times—that was based on information from American officials who had access to classified intelligence—the app was accused of being a spying tool for the UAE to “track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those who install it on their phones.”
Ziani, however, defended his creation and denied the allegations.
“I was not aware, and I’m even not aware now of who was who, who was doing what in the past,” Ziani told the AP.
Ziani attributed the allegations to professional jealousy, although he failed to provide any evidence to support his claim. It will be interesting to watch what happens with ToTok and whether Ziani is successful in getting the app reinstated on Apple and Google’s app stores.
In the meantime, ToTok is a cautionary tale that illustrates the lengths some governments and organizations will go in order to spy on individuals.