Is Cell Phone Spy Software Legal to Use Where You Live?

I think this crosses almost everyone’s mind when they first discover spy phone software and realize what it is capable of. Is cell phone spy software really legal? Well yes of course it is – sort of!

It is perfectly legal for the companies who design and sell this software to do so – the problems arise with how you intend to use it. You can forget about all the advertizing about catching a cheating partner or spying on your Ex. The companies selling spy software – even some of the good ones – often go for these misleading headlines knowing that they will draw people in. They also protect themselves by including disclaimers, clearing them if you happen to break the law.

Thankfully the more reputable firms have eased off this type of selling and instead focus more on the legitimate, legal ways to use the programs.

Disclaimers, Disclaimers Everywhere

All companies selling cell phone spy software apps will have a disclaimer on their website. They can’t afford not to! Some might be quite subtle with their placement but they will be there. Some go as far as getting you to click a box during purchase to say you have read and understand your legal obligations.

Using these disclaimers allows them to advertize as they like as long as they then tell you – by the way that would be illegal! They know that some people will use the software as they please and break the law but so what – it’s not their fault.

The Law Where You Live

So what is the legal situation? As usual the law is never that straightforward and will vary between different countries and is spy phone software legalregions. We are basically looking at privacy laws and you should check your local legislation if you are in any doubt.

Privacy laws are meant to protect individuals but of course government and law enforcement agencies operate to a different set of rules – where the individual’s privacy may not count for much.

Although the actual laws may differ from place to place if you stick to the main principles covered by the company disclaimers you will be safe.

  1. You must own or have legal authority over the cell phone you wish to monitor.
  2. You must notify any adult user of the cell phone that it is being monitored.

This narrows things down a bit and indeed gets to the crux of what is actually legal.

Legal Uses for Spy Software

So you need to actually own the phone or at least pay the bill. This does not mean you can buy your husband a cell phone and monitor it freely.

Legal authority over the phone can be a bit of a grey area at first glance but when you add in that any adult user must be notified it is much clearer.

There are really only two ways to use this kind of software legally.

  • To monitor your employees cell phones – if the company supplies them and you tell them they are being monitored.

That is it – no exceptions, you can’t just install spy software on anyone’s cell phone and stay within the law. Of course the reality is that some people will take their chances and they will most likely get away with it unless they are very careless.

Here is something else to think about if you are tempted to use it illegally – any evidence you uncover cannot be used in legal action. You would in fact incriminate yourself.

Cell phone spy programs are a relatively new technology which has seen massive growth in popularity over the last couple of years. There is no doubt that many people are flouting the law and I expect to see more cases where people are being taken to court and prosecuted for illegal use.

Don’t break the law; use the software in a responsible way and you won’t be up in front of Judge Judy!

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5 Responses to Is Cell Phone Spy Software Legal to Use Where You Live?

  1. jasmine del rio August 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    I still see lots of ads for spying on your ex and stuff like that. You are saying this is not legal? How can they still have ads like this?

    • Susan Kennedy August 7, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

      I guess that’s the internet for you! It is illegal to spy on another adults phone without their knowledge – end of story. Of course many people choose to ignore the law – and some advertisers will play on this. Google has banned adverts of this nature across their advertizing channels.

  2. Lauren September 8, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    For someone who has been spied on without their knowledge, is there any recourse or way to prove it?

    • Susan Kennedy September 15, 2015 at 1:18 am #

      I’m afraid it would be very difficult to prove. You would need to find someone to find and identify the software being used then take legal action to get the software provider to release details of the purchaser – assuming they bought it with their real name. Messy I’m afraid and could prove expensive. Hope that helps and good luck.

  3. Al January 31, 2017 at 4:45 am #

    Thanks for the info. It is very helpful.

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