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The FTC is finally doing something about ‘stalking’ apps

Now, they can only be used to monitor your own kids or your employees. Right, glad that cleared things up…

Person looking at stalking app on phone
Image: Unsplash

Ever heard of ‘stalkerware‘? It’s everywhere from well-meaning parents to overreaching bosses, with little to no oversight. At least, until now, as the FTC has just settled its first case against a company who was creating stalkerware.

That settlement means that Retina-X Studios will have to ensure that its apps will be used for legitimate purposes in order to continue promoting and selling its warez.

The FTC has just settled its first case against a so-called ‘stalking’ app developer

While we’d all love to know where our kids are at all times, the same tech is often used by abusers, stalkers, and other scumbags. Developers like Retina-X have made bank selling sketchy monitoring apps to anyone who will pay, without caring about the consequences of misuse.

This FTC ruling is the first of its kind, but expect more tracking app developers to get the same treatment in the future.

More about the FTC ruling:

  • MobileSpy, PhoneSheriff, and TeenShield are the three apps sold by Retina-X that are subject to the FTC ruling
  • They require users to either ‘root’ or ‘jailbreak’ the phones they are installed on, bypassing the phone’s security methods
  • The developer also described how to remove the app’s icon from showing up on the screen
  • Retina-X also didn’t do enough to secure user data, including Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) violations, which apply to information gathered from children under the age of 13

To resume business operations, the developer will have to ask purchasers to prove they are going to use the app to monitor children, employees, or other consenting adults. It’s pretty shitty that your employer can legally snoop on you in this way, so maybe don’t do your Reddit browsing on your company phone…

What do you think? Glad to see more oversight coming to stalking apps like the ones mentioned above? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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