How much control is too much control? That’s the question being asked by plenty of human rights groups as more and more spyware companies offer products to track other people’s smartphones.
They are marketed as ways to make sure your children are staying safe on the Internet or to confirm your suspicions if your partner is being honest or having an affair, but people are using them to spy on family members or ex-lovers in dangerous ways. These could include getting into the grey area of stalking as well as invading the privacy of the young people your child interacts with online and via phone and text.
It definitely states a case for researching and installing quality antispyware software on your own devices if you suspect someone might be trying to track you.
A study by Australia’s Deakin University showed that spyware marketing is promoting illegal stalking of women and controlling behavior. If you’re using the software to monitor your child’s video and voice calls, that means you’re also spying on whomever they are talking to, without that child or his/her parents’ to do so. In extreme cases, parents have been prosecuted for possession of child pornography when their monitoring software records images or videos of underage children taking revealing selfies of themselves to send to others.
The study analyzed nine spyware products to examine their privacy policies and data security over the course of two years. A lot of the spyware advertising seemed to be geared towards catching spouses who are suspected to be cheating in their relationships.
Australia’s Women’s Services Network (WESNET) gets about two inquiries a week from women dealing with family violence who either suspect or have discovered spyware on their phones. In addition to the shady legality of it all, these low-standard spyware companies have poor data security, which leads to many data breaches.
Things get even scarier when people use spyware to turn digital surveillance into the real-world equivalent. A former Australia police detective who now runs a consultancy firm helping women escape domestic violence says that many jealous exes go from spyware to putting trackers on their ex-partner’s car. In one case, a woman’s former boyfriend went so far as to program a drone to film her while she slept and follow her when she left her residence.
There are plenty of tell-tale signs that something is on your phone that should not be there. Among them are indicators like your phone using way more battery power than usual or turning on when you know it should be off. You might not be able to control your webcam, microphone, or camera at certain points, or your device will be sluggish even when you have just a few apps open.
If you suspect any of this, research a quality antispyware software and download a free copy to check things out. If your results show that an illegal software is on your phone, don’t confront the person you suspect is behind it, as that can be dangerous. Call the company that is providing the service, explain that you are the device’s owner, and work through the process to get it removed. If the person you suspect also pays the bill for your phone, you should consider dumping it and getting your own, making sure you are in complete control of the account and billing.