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The use of spyware software – used to track partner’s movements, texts and even listen in on calls in realtime – has seen a dramatic rise over the past few years, according to an exclusive report by British newspaper The Independent.
A survey by domestic violence charity Women’s Aid concluded that 41% of abuse victims it had been involved with had been the victim of harassment using electronic devices or spyware abuse, while a second survey – this time by Digital Trust – claims it found that 50% of abusive partners had used spyware or electronic devices to snoop on their victims.
And spyware abuse isn’t going away any time soon. “We increasingly hear stories of abusers adding tracking software to phones, placing spyware on personal computers and using the internet to gather information about their partner,” says Polly Neate, CEO of charity Women’s Aid.
In the UK (the focus of these spyware abuse surveys), tracking devices are available online for as little as £50 ($75-80) claims a report from the BBC , and over the Christmas period it’s become increasingly common for abusers to give partners (or even their children) gifts that conceal hidden spyware in order to allow abusers to monitor their victims with impunity.
And, it seems, law enforcement organisations are ill-equipped and trained to deal with the rise in spyware abuse. Neate goes on to say, “in many cases the Police are not trained to recognise and understand the impact of online abuse, including tracking, and action is rarely taken against abusers.”
Author Alan Martin, ESET