The Federal Trade Commission has made its first-ever move against stalkerware mobile apps, by opening an official investigation…
Stalkerware, sometimes referred to as “spyware” or “spouseware,” takes many different forms. But, much of it operates the same way. Typically it’s used by one individual or a company to monitor another person’s activity. Today, the technology is more available than ever.
Now, the Federal Trade Commission is taking its first action against such software. Particularly, for applications originally created to monitor children and employees which are then used for illegitimate purposes.
FTC Brings First-Ever Case against Stalkerware Apps
The FTC has prohibited Florida-based company Retina-X Studios from promoting its apps unless the creators provide sufficient evidence the apps aren’t being exploited for nefarious reasons.
The apps under investigation by the federal agency are MobileSpy, TeenShield, and PhoneSheriff, parental surveillance programs. Combined, they’ve totaled about 15,000 subscriptions before being banned. Said apps read texts, viewed photos, and accessed GPS locations after being secretly installed.
Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the following:
“This is our first action against a so-called ‘stalking app. Although there may be legitimate reasons to track a phone, these apps were designed to run surreptitiously in the background and are uniquely suited to illegal and dangerous uses. Under these circumstances, we will seek to hold app developers accountable for designing and marketing a dangerous product.”