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It Seemed Like a Popular Chat App. Itís Secretly a Spy Tool.
December 22, 2019 | Mark Mazzetti, Nicole Perlroth and Ronen Bergman

Posted on 12/22/2019 9:05:45 PM PST by ransomnote

ToTok, an Emirati messaging app that has been downloaded to millions of phones, is the latest escalation of a digital arms race.

 IMAGE: The Aldar Building in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where the Emirates’ signals intelligence agency and Pax AI, a data mining firm linked to ToTok, have their offices.  Photo Credit...Ben Job/Reuters

WASHINGTON — It is billed as an easy and secure way to chat by video or text message with friends and family, even in a country that has restricted popular messaging services like WhatsApp and Skype.

But the service, ToTok, is actually a spying tool, according to American officials familiar with a classified intelligence assessment and a New York Times investigation into the app and its developers. It is used by the government of the United Arab Emirates to try to track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those who install it on their phones.

ToTok, introduced only months ago, was downloaded millions of times from the Apple and Google app stores by users throughout the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. While the majority of its users are in the Emirates, ToTok surged to become one of the most downloaded social apps in the United States last week, according to app rankings and App Annie, a research firm.

ToTok amounts to the latest escalation in a digital arms race among wealthy authoritarian governments, interviews with current and former American foreign officials and a forensic investigation showed. The governments are pursuing more effective and convenient methods to spy on foreign adversaries, criminal and terrorist networks, journalists and critics — efforts that have ensnared people all over the world in their surveillance nets.

Persian Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Qatar previously turned to private firms — including Israeli and American contractors ....


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: abudhabi; android; apple; beseeingyou; bigbother; bigbrother; chatapp; despotism; evilempire; google; ios; iphone; islamicimperialism; messenger; orwelliannightnare; paxai; privacy; privacyrights; security; smartphones; stalinisttactics; theresanappforthat; totok; uae; unitedarabemirates

1 posted on 12/22/2019 9:05:45 PM PST by ransomnote
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To: ransomnote

Link?


2 posted on 12/22/2019 9:09:45 PM PST by a fool in paradise (Recall that unqualified Hillary Clinton sat on the board of Wal-Mart when Bill Clinton was governor)
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To: a fool in paradise

LINK:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/22/us/politics/totok-app-uae.html


3 posted on 12/22/2019 9:10:44 PM PST by ransomnote (IN GOD WE TRUST)
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To: Swordmaker

PING


4 posted on 12/22/2019 9:11:13 PM PST by a fool in paradise (Recall that unqualified Hillary Clinton sat on the board of Wal-Mart when Bill Clinton was governor)
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To: ransomnote

Gotta catch those that don’t really like their pedophile prophet and moon god.


5 posted on 12/22/2019 9:11:25 PM PST by wastedyears (The left would kill every single one of us and our families if they knew they could get away with it)
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To: ransomnote

Every application with access to your camera, microphone, images, contacts and communicating with a developer (98% of all phone apps nowadays) is a spyware by default.


6 posted on 12/22/2019 9:21:42 PM PST by NorseViking
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To: ransomnote

Sounds like an Arab Google.


7 posted on 12/22/2019 9:45:22 PM PST by matthew fuller (America's Dark Age-2009-2016.)
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To: ransomnote

Parts of the US government recently released advisories on this app.


8 posted on 12/22/2019 9:56:52 PM PST by KC_Conspirator
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To: KC_Conspirator

The U.S. FedMob probably doesn’t like competition with their apps.


9 posted on 12/22/2019 10:08:20 PM PST by TigersEye (MAGA - 16 more years! - KAG)
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To: NorseViking

Agreed. Use the internet? Don’t even begin to think you are hidden or anonymous.


10 posted on 12/22/2019 10:24:06 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew

Actually it is possible to use internet anonymously but it takes some effort.


11 posted on 12/22/2019 10:42:57 PM PST by NorseViking
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To: NorseViking

In the USA, we have the NSA!
Privacy, 4A, yah right!

But of course, “Those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear” as so many here always claim.


12 posted on 12/22/2019 11:04:55 PM PST by Ex gun maker. (Unconstitutional "Law" is void from inception.....)
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To: ransomnote

Your Big Brother in a keffiyeh is listening to you!


13 posted on 12/23/2019 6:11:18 AM PST by I want the USA back (If free speech is taken away, dumb and silent we are led, like sheep to the slaughter: G Washington)
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To: ransomnote

Dumb question, but why are there are all of these chat apps when simple text messaging does the same thing?


14 posted on 12/23/2019 6:12:14 AM PST by caver
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To: TigersEye

That is not it. It was bought by a Chinese company and all user information is therefore passed to the Chinese government and intelligence. Example: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-tiktok-navy/u-s-navy-bans-tiktok-from-government-issued-mobile-devices-idUSKBN1YO2HU


15 posted on 12/23/2019 7:31:17 AM PST by KC_Conspirator
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To: KC_Conspirator

Oh. That’s where the NSA and CIA get their info so it’s definitely not a competition thing.


16 posted on 12/23/2019 5:41:09 PM PST by TigersEye (MAGA - 16 more years! - KAG)
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