The suspicion that some messaging applications are surveillance tools for governments and intelligence in different countries is nothing new. This time, though, things are getting out of the realm of conspiracy or at least that's what the US intelligence services want us to believe.
As The New York Times reports, the ToTok messaging app, popular in the United Arab Emirates, is in fact a spyware tool for tracking people for their secret services. Other messaging services (eg WhatsApp, Viber) are not allowed everywhere in the UAE, so ToTok is the default choice for millions of users. But the researchers' findings show that it is clearly used to track all conversations, photos and videos exchanged, and of course the location of each user.
According to security researcher Patrick Wardle, this policy is significantly more successful and easier than hacking citizens' devices. Just convincing them to use an application and how much easier than an approved messaging application in countries where competing services are not completely free?
Google and Apple's reaction to the post was immediate, with both withdrawing the ToTok app from their stores, and so far there is no official comment by the app's creators.