ToTok co-founder pushes back after accusations app is UAE spy tool

'We are not linked to any government,' the app's co-founder said

The co-founder of a popular chat app accused of being a spy tool for the United Arab Emirates government denied the claims and asked Apple and Google to reinstate the app in a video posted on Twitter.

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"We are not linked to any government, not the UAE, the U.S., or China. ... Each version of the ToTok app went through your rigorous review process," ToTok co-founder Giacomo Ziani said. "We have been working very closely with your review teams to address every concern."

"If you have any further concern, we would like to invite you to our office to meet us in person so we can get the problem solved," Ziani said.

A report from The New York Times presented the messaging app as a tool used by the Emirati government to spy on its people. Apple and Google removed ToTok from their app stores.

"Without any prior notice, ToTok was removed from your stores, and people couldn't download it anymore. This is seriously hurting our company," Ziani said.

Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Skype, which have large U.S. user bases, are partially blocked in the UAE, according to The Verge. ToTok offered users an alternative but asked for their correspondence, photos and even locations — which was actually available to the Emirati government, the Times reported.

Concerns over ToTok comes after a backlash against the app TikTok.

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A U.S. senator introduced legislation to combat the flow of Americans' data to countries like China in response to the popularity of Chinese-owned app TikTok.

More teenagers are on TikTok than on Facebook, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri., told Fox News in November.

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