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UAE telecoms authority TRA responds to ToTok issue

UAE telecoms authority TRA responds to ToTok issue

ToTok co-founder Giac has also urged Apple and Google to re-instate the app

The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has said its laws “prohibit any kind of data breach”, is response to allegations of spying by following video calling app ToTok.

ToTok, an app offering free video and audio calling services was recently removed from the Google and Apple app stores after international media reports alleged that the app was being used as a spy tool.

However, in a statement, the TRA said “that the 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”.

It stressed that the “standards are strictly implemented across all certified telecommunications applications, including Totok, in the UAE”, official news agency WAM reported.

“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,” it said.

Following the allegations, ToTok’s founders also released a statement last week saying the app was built with “user security and privacy as our priority”.

“A technical analysis by a former NSA employee has concluded ToTok “simply does what it claims to do, and really nothing more… no exploits, no backdoors, and no malware”,” the statement said.

During the weekend, ToTok co-founder Giac also directly addressed Apple and Google in a video message on Twitter, urging them to re-instate the app.

The app received attention in the UAE after those using Botim – a video and voice call app – received a message earlier this month stating that the company agreed to provide services under the ToTok brand.

Botim currently offers services for a fee in the UAE.

Currently, all free international voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services including Skype and WhatsApp calls are blocked in the UAE as per regulations issued by the Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRA).

However, a growing list of supported video/audio calling apps in the UAE include C’Me, HiU, Yzer and Voico – along with Botim.

There have been several calls for the country to lift the ban on the free calling apps.

In its latest statement, the TRA said: “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.”

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