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New York Moves Against Stalkerware, A Tool for Domestic Abuse

Bloomberg: Apps disguised as child safety software are used to monitor spouses, officials say. “Stalkers and domestic abusers in the US for years have been able to access the kind of surveillance tools typically associated with foreign spies. That’s all because of a pervasive industry that promises to help people who want to secretly monitor their family members. Now, because of an action brought by the New York Attorney General, one player in the so-called stalkerware industry has agreed to notify the people who were infected with its spyware. But it was required to pay just $410,000 in civil penalties, in part because rather than taking issue with the harmful nature of the technology, state prosecutors cited only the companies’ use of deceptive marketing. A detailed legal filing provides a glimpse into the pernicious capabilities that stalkerware firms provide to consumers – enabling buyers to collect victims’ texts, photos, emails, direct messages, you name it. The case is the latest evidence that such apps are more popular than previously understood. The New York investigation determined that one Florida man owned 16 companies, distributing apps with names such as PhoneSpector and AutoForward Data Services that promoted mobile surveillance software. Once installed on a device, some of the apps would be invisible on a user’s home screen and allow a stalker to remotely activate an individual’s camera or microphone without their knowledge, according to the legal filing…”

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