Alleged Spying App ToTok Booted Off the Play Store Again
Last year, popular messaging app ToTok (not to be confused with TikTok) was found to be harboring malware that spied on its users. Following a huge public uproar, the app was booted off the Play Store. It was reinstated later once the app's creators issued a statement that said:
We firmly deny this baseless accusation, and we are profoundly saddened by this complete fabrication that was thrown at us. We feel caught up in some vile conspiracy against the UAE, and even jealousy by some people, who do not wish an app like ours from this region to ever become a global player
Now, it appears that ToTok has been deleted off the Play Store again.
Google says that it deleted ToTok due to Play Store violations
In a statement to Techcrunch, a Google spokesperson said that it removed ToTok off the Play Store for several unnamed policy violations. They further added that no external agency was involved in ToTok's removal. Essentially, it did so out of its own free will and not under pressure from any government. Ideally, the app should not have been let back on the Play Store, to begin with. One theory states that ToTok's developers may have uploaded an updated version of the app stripped of all the malicious elements.
ToTok was downloaded millions of times by users based in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. People in the Middle East, in particular, use it extensively for VOIP and video calls, as other alternatives such as WhatsApp and Telegram are partially banned in the region. According to a security expert familiar with the matter, ToTok can "track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound, and image of those who install it on their phones."
On the updated version of ToTok's website, the Play Store link is gone altogether. Instead, you are given the option to sideload an APK of the application. There is still an App Store link for it, but it doesn't take you anywhere and just says 'coming soon' when you click the icon. It is still up on Huawei's Play Store equivalent App Gallery, though.