Earlier this week, I was disgusted to find a promotional e-mail from SMS Privato Spy in my inbox. The company sells a service by which it sends a spoofed SMS message to a target phone that then allows the subscriber to monitor the phone’s activity – all of it. The company attempts to cover their ass by a disclaimer on the home page, “Disclaimer: SMS Privato Spy is an online software program designed to gather information about a phone. You should be the legal owner of the phone or have permission from the user of the phone in order to connect SMS Privato Spy on it.” Uh huh. Sure. And the really disgusting part is that the disclaimer may actually cover their ass while those who purchase and use the service may face criminal charges if they are not the owner of the phone or don’t have consent to monitor.
Now some will say that’s just fine and it’s like guns – manufacturers can legally make them and sell them but responsibility for their use is with the purchaser or user. Personally, I have a problem with companies selling devices or services that they know damned well or can reasonably predict will be used for illegal purposes, but the government hasn’t seemed inclined to actually stop it. Maybe some really aggressive lawyers will file lawsuits charging these companies with conspiring to violate wiretapping laws or something. I don’t know, since I’m not a lawyer, but damn, I wish somebody would do something effective to stop all this sneaky remote spying.
Today, Kashmir Hill blogs on Forbes about a similar app, “Kare Log,” and the increasing use of phone-based spying tools. Read it and fume along with me.