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Wed 11 Mar 2020 02:09 PM

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UAE-developed app ToTok says seeking dialogue with Google, Apple

VoIP app is keen to talk to Apple and Google after being removed from their app stores over 'false' spyware claims

UAE-developed app ToTok says seeking dialogue with Google, Apple

ToTok, the UAE-developed VoIP app, on Wednesday said it continues to seek a dialogue with Apple and Google after being removed from their app stores.

The app – which allows users to make video and voice calls – was taken down from both online marketplaces after The New York Times reported ToTok allowed the UAE government to track the conversations, movements and other details of people who installed it on their phone.

The report was denied by the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

ToTok said in its new statement: "Despite the misleading and outright false accusations carried in certain media outlets recently, ToTok has seen an outpouring of support and trust from tens of millions of users, including more than 20 million who continue to use the app regularly.

"The message to our users and everyone around the world is: ToTok is still going strong.

"While we disagreed with the removal of ToTok from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, we have implemented every specific change requested by both Apple and Google. We remain eager to cooperate with the two companies to get ToTok back in the app stores for good."

ToTok added: "Our company has sought and continues to seek a dialogue with Apple and Google by calling, emailing, and reaching out on social media, inviting the two companies to visit the ToTok office in Abu Dhabi. Regrettably, there has been no return communications from Apple since January 7, and from Google since February 15. The time to resume dialogue and cooperation is now."

Led by a group of international entrepreneurs and engineers working in the UAE, ToTok said its user data is strongly encrypted and all transmission channels are fully protected, using the same technologies as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger.

The app, which was first taken off Google Play and Apple App stores in December, was reinstated on January 4 after an impassioned plea from its co-founder Giancomo Ziani.

However, it has since been taken off again.

Voice and video-calling apps have long been banned in the UAE, with the country’s TRA advising residents to subscribe to Botim and C’ME, which are provided by Etisalat and Du.

The free calling app became popular following Botim’s announcement to keep on providing communication services under the Singapore-based ToTok brand.

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