Seller of spyware app charged with selling a surreptitious interception device

September 30, 2014 |

That mobile apps are a privacy worry has moved from speculation through to allegation and are moving into the realm of a truism.  Regulators have known about this for years and have in 2013/14 raised concerns, conducted reviews and surveys to highlight the problems with mobile apps.  Those problems include non existent to poor privacy policies, failure to notify users of what will be done with their personal information, generally poor security, inadequate protections when transmitting information across wifi networks and poor quality software.  In US man charged for selling spyware phone app the problem is even more concerning, an app designed to be installed by another person for the purpose of intercepting communications, including overhearing conversations, monitoring emails without the knowledge of the user of the device. This moves from privacy intrusive behaviour into criminality.  And the seller of the app has been charged.

The story provides:

In their first criminal case on mobile spyware, US authorities have charged a man who sold a mobile app that surreptitiously recorded phone calls and intercepted texts and emails when it was installed on a target’s phone, the Department of Justice has said.

For almost four years, Hammad Akbar, chief executive officer of a private company called InvoCode, sold an app known as StealthGenie, capable of recording conversations within a 15-foot radius, according to the indictment.

The app also recorded phone calls as they were made, monitored emails, photographs and calendars without the knowledge of the user. It worked on iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

Akbar, 31, of Lahore, Pakistan, was arrested in Los Angeles last week and is being charged with conspiracy, selling and advertising a surreptitious interception device.

He was expected to appear before a judge in the Central District of California on Monday.

To install the app, customers needed physical control of the target’s phone for just a few minutes. It then sent all intercepted messages to the customer’s account. The information could be viewed at any computer with access to the internet, according to the indictment.

The company’s business plan said it expected customers suspecting their partners of infidelity to constitute 65 per cent of the apps purchasers.

“According to our market research, the majority chunk of the sales will come from people suspecting their partners to be cheating on them or wanting to keep an eye on them,” the business plan stated according to the indictment.

One Response to “Seller of spyware app charged with selling a surreptitious interception device”

  1. Seller of spyware app charged with selling a surreptitious interception device | Australian Law Blogs

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