Campaigners warn over smartphone spyware

close up of a man using mobile...

Smartphones have changed our lives in many ways, and not always for the better. According to campaigners, the number of people spying on their partners via mobile bugging systems is on the rise, and some groups have warned women to be on their guard against the use of smartphone 'spyware'.

Software available in the UK for less than £100 can give jealous partners access to phone conversations, emails, texts, social media and even location via GPS tracking, without the phone user even being aware that they are under surveillance.

Some such devices are available in British high street stores, marketed as 'cell phone backup software', which the phone owner can use to check the use of their mobile should it be lost or stolen. However, other software, such as Flexispy, comes clearly labelled with the slogan: "Their cell phone will tell you what they won't."

Though this kind of spying is an offence under the Data Protection Act, the punishment is typically a fine, and Polly Neate of the Women's Aid group told the Independent that police lack the training to recognise online tracking and suggested that "action is rarely taken against abusers".

And at a time of year when the number of break-ups is at a high, campaigners are concerned about the risks.

The Digital Trust group said yesterday: "Women leaving abusive relationships and seeking refuge will often unwittingly lead abusers to their location via mobile phones. Mobiles can track the victim if the phone is registered to the abuser, if they have access to the victim's Google or iPhone online account, or surveillance software or app has been put on the phone."

What do you think? Should this kind of software be banned? Leave your comments below...
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