Google is failing to enforce its own ban on ads for stalkerware

While it is not legal in the United States to install tracking software on an adult’s phone without consent, the marketing of these applications is legal. While many companies show disclaimers on their websites stating that their software is for legal purposes only, there have been a handful of convictions for installing spyware on adult devices that are unaware of it.

Last September, in the first order of its kind, the Federal Trade Commission banned a company called Support King, which operated under the name SpyFone, from the surveillance business to illegally collect and share information. deprived of basic security measures. The FTC said it would be “aggressive in seeking surveillance bans when companies and their executives blatantly invade our privacy.”

While many stalking software applications are sold as parental control tools to monitor children, they offer the same capabilities as the services that are most obvious to be designed to spy on spouses, says David Ruiz, a senior privacy advocate. Malwarebytes security group. “There’s a whole family of apps that directly say that quoting without quotes will solve your problem of a cheating spouse. Which isn’t just ridiculous, it’s dangerous.”

Technology-abused abuse is a rapidly growing problem. About 1.5 million Americans are harassed through some form of technology each year, according to the Stalking Prevention Awareness and Resource Center, while the British charity Domestic Violence reported that 97% increase in the number of cases of abuse requiring specialized technical support between April 2020 and May 2021.

The charity’s technology abuse team said it works with “countless” survivors whose abusers installed harassment on their phones to try to intimidate, harass and manipulate them.

“Feeling that these apps are being marketed directly to the perpetrators is very worrying,” says Emma Pickering, head of technology abuse at Refuge. “Technology companies need to act quickly to remove ads that allow authors to access tools to read their partners’ messages or track placements without their knowledge or consent.

“We must recognize that cyberbullying is dangerous and threatening behavior in the same way that street harassment is.”

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