FTC bans suspected execution of “stalkerware” by surveillance company

FTC bans suspected execution of

The agency announced Wednesday that the Federal Trade Commission had voted unanimously to ban “Stalkerware App Company” and its CEO from surveillance activity.

This is the first time the FTC has received such a ban, the commission said in a press release on the proposed settlement. The agency clarified that it would likely not be final.

“This case is an important reminder that surveillance-based businesses pose a significant threat to our safety and security,” Samuel Levine, executive director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “We will be aggressive in imposing surveillance restrictions when companies and their executives aggressively invade our privacy.”

In a separate statement, Democratic Commissioner Rohit Chopra called the conclusion of the ban “a significant change from the agency’s previous approach.” According to Chorpa, the agency reached its first stalkerware settlement in 2019, but the deal “allowed violators to continue to develop and market surveillance products.”

Spyphone, an Android app run by a company called Support King, is said to have “secretly collected and shared data on people’s physical activities, phone use and online activities through hacks of hidden devices.” According to the FTC, she allegedly sold “real-time access” to their surveillance, which could help stalkers and attackers find their targets.

The FTC says customers who purchased SpyFone software had to bypass several restrictions on Android phones. SpyFone reportedly told customers how to hide the app from surveillance targets. To monitor emails or use other features, according to the FTC, customers should use a method that could void the phone’s warranty and expose it to other security risks.

On top of that, the app also lacked basic security measures, the FTC claimed, leaving consumers exposed to cyber threats. Even when a hacker obtained the personal data of more than 2,200 consumers in 2018, the FTC alleged that SpyFone failed to deliver on its promise to work with an outside security firm and law enforcement. .

The FTC ordered SpyFone to remove all covertly collected and illegally obtained data, and to notify people who secretly installed the app on their devices.

Spyphone and Support King did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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