Domestic abuse shelters across the country are seeing a disturbing trend: victims of abuse discovering their partner installed secret surveillance software on their phones to surreptitiously record their calls and track their location.
The software is cheap and easy to install. A simple google search reveals dozens of options for tracking your partner.
“Harper” left her husband two years ago, and towards the end of their three decade relationship, she says he secretly installed software on her phone that tracked her location, read her text messages and recorded her calls.
VICE News disguised her identity because she is still afraid of her ex-husband. A 2016 Government Accountability Office report identified more than 40 apps that can secretly track phone activity. Many of these apps are marketed to parents who want to track their children.
Liz Ortenberger runs SafeNest, a Las Vegas domestic violence shelter that provides counseling and other services to forty-five thousand victims a year.
“What we assume is that everything is tracked,” Ortenberger told VICE News.
People who install these apps onto their spouse’s phone are typically in violation of three laws: the federal wiretapping statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse act, and the federal stalking statute. But prosecution is rare, at least in part because detection is rare and difficult.
Subscribe to VICE News here: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE-News
Check out VICE News for more: http://vicenews.com
Follow VICE News here:
More videos from the VICE network: https://www.fb.com/vicevideo