By Sam Bridge
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority says strict standards to protect privacy are applied to popular video call and chat service
The UAE's telecommunications regulator has said it imposes strict standards to protect users' privacy after ToTok was taken off the Apple and Google app stores because there were allegations that it was being used as a spy tool.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) issued a statement saying it is aware of the recent allegations and concerns about the privacy of users on applications in the UAE, in particular Totok, a popular video call and chat service.
"The TRA affirms that UAE telecommunications regulations encompass strong information security laws to prohibit any kind of data breach and unlawful interception. The TRA imposes strict standards to protect users’ privacy, which are in compliance with international standards," said the statement carried by state news agency WAM.
"The standards are strictly implemented across all certified telecommunications applications, including Totok, in the UAE," it added.
The statement went on to say: "The TRA reaffirms that all certified telecommunications applications in the UAE are in compliance with these standards and apply them. The TRA ensures the compliance of all players and is working closely with international organisations to protect user privacy."
The statement comes in the wake of recent reports that ToTok had been removed from Google Play and the Apple App Store.
ToTok is reportedly still not available to new users but existing users have said they are stiil able to use the app for free calls.
The TRA added: "The UAE is committed to fostering a business environment that encourages innovators and entrepreneurs to thrive across multiple sectors. The country is also adopting the latest technologies, such as 5G for mobile phones, Blockchain, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence applications."
Last week, media reports accused ToTok of being spyware and misusing user data but the developers denied all accusations.
They said: "In this holiday season of joy and celebration, we would have preferred not to dignify those who manufacture lies with a direct response. But as ToTok cofounders, we are personally compelled to speak up for ourselves and for our users."
Referring to allegations of lack of privacy and security concerns, the statement added: "Here is the fact - since day one, we have built ToTok with user security and privacy as our priority."