Google removed the chat app ToTok, which is said to be a spy tool for the United Arab Emirates, from the Play Store for the second time. The app was already downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store in December, shortly before the New York Times published a report about it. Google tacitly reintroduced the app in January. The app does not appear to be available in the App Store.
9to5Google noted the news of ToTok's shutdown earlier today. When Google reached for a comment, The Verge confirmed that it was taking the app down, but did not explain why. According to the Times ToTok was first removed for violating unspecified policies.
ToTok is a messaging app that promised "fast, free, and secure" messages and calls and has been downloaded by millions in the UAE and elsewhere in the Middle East. Shortly before being removed from the Play Store and App Store in December, the app was one of the most downloaded social apps in the U.S. However, investigation of NYT found that the app allowed the United Arab Emirates government to spy on users.
ToTok denied the "malicious rumors" in a statement released in December, saying that "[n] not only respect our users' privacy and security, but also have complete control over what data they choose to share Discretion. ”