Google has removed the popular messaging app ToTok amid claims that it is being used for spying by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government for mass surveillance for a second time. The app was previously pulled from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store in December. 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, 9to5Google reported on Friday.
According to the US officials familiar with the classified intelligence assessment, the app that works like Signal or Telegram has been downloaded millions of times on Android and iOS devices in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
ToTok surged to become one of the most downloaded social apps in the US last week, according to app rankings and research firm App Annie.
An investigation by NYT found that the firm behind ToTok is known as Breej Holding which is a front firm affiliated with DarkMatter, an Abu Dhabi-based cyberintelligence and hacking firm.
DarkMatter is already under an FBI investigation for possible cybercrimes.
Earlier, the probe also linked ToTok to Pax AI, an Abu Dhabi-based data mining firm that appears to be tied to DarkMatter.