ToTok chat app tells users to ignore Google’s spyware warning

Graham Cluley @gcluley

ToTok chat app tells users to ignore Google's spyware warning

Video chat app ToTok has been removed from the official Android and iOS app stores by Google and Apple respectively, following growing concerns that it was actually helping the government of the United Arab Emirates spy on users’ conversations and location.

The ToTok was first pulled from the Google Play store in December, only to be reinstated in January after an update to the Android version of the app introduced a dialog box that asked users’ permission to access and sync their list of contacts.

Now ToTok appears to have roused the ire of Google again, as the app was once again withdrawn from the Android app store last week.

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Android users who have already installed the app are likely to be disturbed by the following warning from Google popping up on their device:

Play protect warning

Play Protect warning

ToTok

This app tries to spy on your personal data, such as SMS messages, photos, audio recordings, or call history

Even if you have heard of this app or the app developer, this version of the software could harm your device.

The warning then offers the option of uninstalling the app if the user wishes.

ToTok is, to put it mildly, not terribly happy, saying it is deeply concerned and disappointed by “yet another attack perpetrated against our company by those who hold a dominant position in this market.”

ToTok says that although its app has been removed the iOS App Store and Google Play, it is still available in the Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo app stores, and that users of Android devices from other manufacturers can install ToTok from its official website.

In a tweet, ToTok invited users to “ignore the Google notification and continue to enjoy ToTok, which is entirely safe and secure.”

Totok message

I’m not sure, however, that I would feel terribly comfortable using ToTok right now.

If Google says the app is spying on users, it’s a brave person who ignores the warning and carries on using it regardless.

It’s not as though there aren’t other methods of communication out there…

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Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

2 Replies to “ToTok chat app tells users to ignore Google’s spyware warning”

  1. You beat me to the obvious conclusion there Martin. That said, I'd run a mile if I was a Totok user. Google may spy on users but at least they invest heavily in their security posture. Better the devil you know and all that…

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