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The creator of an app that secretly allows you to monitor another person’s smartphone usage without their knowledge has been arrested in Los Angeles, according to Slashgear.
Hammad Akbar, the CEO of InvoCode, which markets the StealthGenie app, was charged with allegedly illegally marketing an app that monitors calls, texts, videos and other communications. ArsTechnica reports that it was the “’first ever’ case surrounding advertising and the sales of mobile spyware targeting adults.”
Although Akbar, 31, is from Lahore, Pakistan, the spyware was actually hosted at a data center in Ashburn, Virginia. ZDNet reports that a temporary restraining order to disable the website hosting StealthGenie was issued by a federal judge in the Eastern District on Virginia was issued on 26 September.
The app was available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, and required physical access to the handset to install it, meaning its apparent intention was to monitor the activities of people connected to those who downloading the app.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell issued a statement condemning the app, and explaining the arrest: “Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it’s a crime. Apps like StealthGenie are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victim’s personal life – all without the victim’s knowledge. The Criminal Division is committed to cracking down on those who seek to profit from technology designed and used to commit brazen invasions of individual privacy.”
While ArsTechnica points out that anxious parents monitoring their children’s mobile phone activity could use the surveillance software, ZDNet reports that the FBI believe that “most of the advertising for StealthGenie focused on catching out cheating spouses or partners.”
We Live Security has an extensive guide to for domestic abuse survivors looking to protect their privacy available here.
Author Alan Martin, ESET