Other than being multinational tech companies, another similarity between Google and Apple is the fact that their business model lies in monetizing users’ data. And both rely on algorithms that are prone to exploitation. Despite the numerous privacy issues they have been accused of, both Google and Apple have been adept in dodging the controversies by harnessing what they are best known for – artificial intelligence and coming back stronger with a suite of new features.
Recently, The New York Times reported allegations that the WhatsApp-lookalike, ToTok is a spy tool for the UAE government, giving access to citizens’ conversations, movements, and other personal information.
In response, Google and Apple removed the messaging app however the ToTok users, who already have the app on their phone can continue using it. Goole Play Store revealed that the app had five million Android downloads alone before it was taken down.
ToTok markets itself as a convenient and secure way to video chat or text. Despite being only months old, the app has been downloaded across Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. App-tracker App Annie claimed it to be one of the most downloaded social apps in the US. Breej Holding, the company behind ToTok is affiliated with DarkMatter, an Abu Dhabi-based cyber intelligence and hacking firm. And the latter is already under investigation for alleged cybercrimes.
Ever since technology started evolving, information, privacy, and data security have been the three things that have been reported on almost every year. Earlier, privacy issues used to be centered on tracking users’ activity online however as technology started getting more complex, today, data privacy is at the center of many political scandals and is one of the biggest social and cultural issues of our time.
In this regard, among the biggest compliments, we can give Apple and Google is that they weren’t making as many mistakes as Facebook which has been surrounded by numerous scandals and data breaches this year. Recently, Apple took down HKmap.live app from its app store that has been utilized by protesters in Hong Kong to track police movements and ambush the officers.
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