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 quality spy software 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 advertise 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 regions. 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.
- You must own or have legal authority over the cell phone you wish to monitor.
- 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.
Think You Are a Victim of Spy Apps?
I have a large section in this site aimed at helping people who may be a victim of the illegal use of spy software apps. I only ever endorse using these products for legitimate purposes and urge people to use them responsibly. If you think someone is targeting you – I have some useful guides to help:
How to Tell if Your Phone is Hacked – this huge guide covers the many ways someone can hack into your phone and so gain access to a lot of personal information. There are 2 extra sections relating to finding Android Hacks and checking is your iPhone hacked – read all together for the best results.
How to Find Spyware or Stalkerware Apps – having worked with these apps for so long, I also know how to find them and combat them when they are used illegally.
Have a good look around the Online Security section of this site – I add new articles regularly!
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 spy apps legally.
- To monitor your kids cell phones (without their knowledge if they are not adults).
- 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 apps 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!