UAE denies developing popular Mideast app as spy tool

ToTok became popular by offering free calling and messaging to millions of users in countries like the UAE. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 28 December 2019

UAE denies developing popular Mideast app as spy tool

  • UAE laws ‘prohibit any kind of data breach and unlawful interception’
  • Apple and Google removed the ToTok app from their marketplaces last week

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates on Saturday denied reports that a popular mobile application developed in the country was used for government spying.
Apple and Google removed the ToTok app from their marketplaces last week following a report claiming it allowed the UAE government to track users’ conversations, movements and other details.
But the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said in a statement that UAE laws “prohibit any kind of data breach and unlawful interception.”
It continued: “The TRA reaffirms that all certified telecommunications applications in the UAE are in compliance with these standards.”
ToTok became popular by offering free calling and messaging to millions of users in countries like the UAE where Internet calling services like Skype are blocked.
But US intelligence officials and a security researcher determined the app was being used by the UAE government for detailed surveillance, The New York Times reported on December 22.
Security researcher Patrick Wardle, who assisted the newspaper, said in a blog post that ToTok appeared to be part of a “mass surveillance operation,” which “likely afforded in-depth insight in a large percentage of the country’s population.”
ToTok appeared to trick users of iPhones and Android devices into handing over access to their location and private data on their devices, Wardle said.
It was also promoted by what appeared to be fake reviews, he said.


Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank awards media duties to Carat

Updated 28 October 2020

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank awards media duties to Carat

  • Carat’s approach will both complement our in-house digital marketing

DUBAI: Carat MENA has been awarded the offline media responsibilities for Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), a leading regional Islamic financial services group that serves more than a million customers through a distribution network in the UAE, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Sudan and the UK.

The agency’s strength in strategic planning across media touchpoints and a data-driven, consumer-centric mindset provided by M1, Dentsu’s proprietary research tool, were said to be critical factors in the decision to select it for the role.

“This is a pivotal time for ADIB as we accelerate our evolution in becoming a market-leading digital bank by challenging old ways of doing things and pioneering the new,” said Inas Abou Salem, the bank’s global head of marketing, communications and branding.

“Carat’s approach will both complement our in-house digital marketing, while driving our offline media with the data-driven approach and strategic vision needed to drive consistent value for our customers.”

Ramzy Abouchacra, the CEO of Carat MENA, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with ADIB, integrating the best of our agency capabilities to support their digital transformation.

“Their ambition to innovate banking in the Middle East is exciting and clearly aligned with our ambition to redefine the role that media plays in driving transformative growth.”