back to article Emirati 'surveillance app' ToTok promoted by Huawei as Apple punts it from store

A popular UAE messaging app has been reportedly used by the country's government to spy on its population. This app, called ToTok, passed all the usual Google Play and Apple App Store checks. Huawei even promoted it via social media. On its Huawei Mobile Services MENA Facebook page, which has over 1.8 million likes, the …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    I thought Huawei were the bad guys and tyrannical medieval middle eastern countries were the good guys?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Confused

      Why not Both? You Think the West only has one enemy?!

      We're quite literally surrounded.

      Remember that next time when you say we don't needs borders.

      1. rbaba

        Re: Confused

        No man is an Island eh? Wasn't the world better off when the commie bastards lived behind an Iron curtain of their making?

        1. Al fazed

          Re: Confused

          Obviously, you weren't around back then...........

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Confused

      There are no "good guys" Only people wanting others assets.

  2. Anomalous Cowturd

    Why ask Huawei?

    Why not ask the UAE government why they need to block any and all encrypted services that they don't control?

    Have you asked Google and Apple why they removed it?

    Don't forget it's night time in China at the moment. I expect there will be a meeting tomorrow morning.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Why ask Huawei?

      Obviously the government, like all others, wants you to use encryption that it has keys to. They gave themselves permission.

      The new catch is that the spy software also watches and listens all the time through the camera, microphone, and location sensor. That went too far, apparently.

  3. Blockchain commentard Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    So a company from one oppressive regime is promoting an app on behalf of another repressive regime? Where's the 'bleeding obvious red flag' icon when you need one?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      It's nice that it's an Arab company supplying cell phone spyware to dodgy regimes instead of an Israeli one - a heart warming Hannukah story

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lucky for us that Google and Apple, just looking at the app coming from a US-allied dictatorship, righteously declined to distribute them.

      Oh, wait, the article says they did in fact distribute them? Oh, wow, who'd have thought, when it's just easier and faster to blame Huawei.

  4. rbaba

    Whch one of the unwritten google policies did they break?

    Was it the one about stealing revenue from the chocofac? As in they, the UAE did the spying and slurping that google normally does, before using a broker to sell this back to them via a dodgy arms length third party? Maybe I am just too cynical....

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Whch one of the unwritten google policies did they break?

      I'm assuming it was a free app, so google aren't losing out on any money by banning it, and on the other hand they don't get much in the way of bad publicity because they've managed to ban it relatively quickly. It's basically a no brainer.

      "Was it the one about stealing revenue from the chocofac?"

      Come on, you think google would have allowed it in the store in the first place, if it was making money that they weren't getting a cut of? You're not cynical enough I think ;)

      1. rbaba

        Re: Whch one of the unwritten google policies did they break?

        I think that I was, err, no, I was sarcastically saying that they were doing the same think that google does, and the UAE needn't have handed over any money to google.

        For fucks sake people, aren't you sick of being fucked over by scroogle fuckbook at twatter?

  5. NonSSL-Login

    Trying to be like the Daily mail?

    So much mention of Huawei in this negative article and even the story URL when Huawei is not the bad guy here. Seriously makes me want to start blocking stupid story authors.

    UAE trying it on like other countries. Don't see any articles besmirching Apple or Google for recommending Whatsapp when they introduced the unencrypted backup on Google servers front/backdoor which I have no doubt was done to give NSA access to those messages.

    I'm surprised there wasnt a dig at kersperkys AV for not picking it up as malicious or something too.

    Pathetc. /Rant

    1. rbaba

      Re: Trying to be like the Daily mail?

      How dare you bite than that serves you the news by biting the hand that feeds it. How dare you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trying to be like the Daily mail?

      It's not called the Daily Fail for nothing.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trying to be like the Daily mail?

      Just for the record Matthew Hughes, are companies supposed to abide by the laws of the countries they operate in?

      Or are you using American exceptionalism to justify that US law is the only one that matters?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trying to be like the Daily mail?

      Yes, have to say, it's odd they only asked Huawei for comment. Why not ToTok themselves, or the UAE? Those are the main protagonists, don't they get a right to say "no comment"? Is ElReg happy to merely regurgitate what others have published?

  6. Kiwi Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Don't really blame Huawei here...

    The article states that they'd not pulled it immediately. Based on rumour and FUD, based on one guys code analysis where that one guy says "Ohh this looks dodgy, I don't really know about this company in another nation so it must be a dodgy government front!"

    I can understand Huawei's reluctance to drop something with so little real evidence. They themselves have been there before many times, and they know that one conspiracy nutter is plenty to repel 1,000,000,000 independent reviews that show absolutely nothing wrong (if only we could use conspiracy nutters as ablative armour - they seem to distort so much around them!)

    Dammit.. Wish I'd got to this tab when it was a fresh story :(

  7. Nifty

    When you use an iPhone app it asks for permission while in use or all the time. So we're saying that apps not offering these standard alternatives are approved by Apple?

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