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Google Handhelds Privacy Technology

Google Bans Sale of Android Spying App 415

dbune writes "Google is not letting a handset application that spies on someone's text messages be sold at its Android App Store. The Secret SMS Replicator developed by DLP Mobile to help lovers find out if their partners are cheating on them violates company policy, according to Google. The app works by secretly duplicating incoming text messages and forwarding these to another mobile phone number."
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Google Bans Sale of Android Spying App

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  • by Urban Garlic ( 447282 ) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:12AM (#34100916)

    Isn't one of the advantages of Android the ability to install apps from other than the Google app store? So people who really want this thing can still get it, independently of Google's disapproving glare, right?

    Genuinely curious about this.

  • by immakiku ( 777365 ) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:17AM (#34100978)

    Yes indeed. I am much less concerned about this decision than I would if this happened on App Stores. I think Google's point is that they don't want a stalker to sneak 2 minutes on a target's phone while they're going to the bathroom and install the app easily from the Android App Store.

  • Re:Its rather Ironic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:31AM (#34101220)
    Not really, what Google does is still legal. What this app does is wiretapping which is illegal without a court order. Doesn't matter whether you're in a one or two party consent state, zero party consent requires a court order and to be performed by law enforcement.

    Google almost certainly pulled the app because the expressed purpose of the app is to violate the law. The only question is why it got into the market to begin with. I'd've thought they'd make a quick cursory glance at the summary before putting it in.
  • by fbjon ( 692006 ) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:31AM (#34101228) Homepage Journal
    Yes, but you hardly need to keep that hidden from yourself. I think that's the sticking point, not the app as such.
  • by C_Kode ( 102755 ) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:37AM (#34101314) Journal

    What irritates me the most is how many apps now request access to my GPS data. I mean, why does Com2Us's Homerun Battle 3D need to know my GPS location? It's a freaking game! Pageonce personal finance or Live Scores? Why do you need to know where I'm at?

    You don't. You just want to sell my information.

  • Re:Fuck android (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @11:47AM (#34101466)
  • Re:iPhone version? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @12:02PM (#34101684)

    I wonder - never done any phone software developments, but shouldn't the SDK's and toolkits come with some sort of "minimal access profiler"? Just run your app on your dev platform, go through all functions and the profiler would tell you what accesses it really needed?

  • by faedle ( 114018 ) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @12:20PM (#34101916) Homepage Journal


    It's even more annoying when you are somewhere you know you won't get good GPS information and have intentionally turned it off. Groupon's applet is particularly annoying in this regard. Dammit, just load and log me in to my account and give me the deals for the city I told you I was in.. don't sit there and freeze while you try to get a GPS fix that may never happen because I'm in the subway.

  • Re:Its rather Ironic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @12:56PM (#34102452) Homepage Journal

    Yes. The husband/wife has a great deal more right to know what *their own spouse* is doing, than Google has rights to know what *everyone* is doing.

    I say that even tho I object to spyware on principle, and figure if a relationship is already that devoid of trust, the *real* function of such spyware is to collect evidence for divorce court.

  • Re:Good For Google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @02:40PM (#34103930) Journal

    Somehow a "parental control" spy app is orders of magnitude creepier than a "suspicious spouse" spy app...

  • Re:Its rather Ironic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sorak ( 246725 ) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @03:08PM (#34104264)

    Back in the days of mom & pop stores, one of the selling points was that the store would be run by a kindly old man who would form a relationship with the customer. (I'm romanticizing, but please understand the marketing pitch). You go in and buy your groceries ever week, and he gets to know you.

    I see Google's role analogous to the shop-keeper. He isn't following you out of the store, and (AFAIK), he isn't selling detailed reports on your shopping habits to some other store. He's just remembering that you were the guy who bought such-and-such last week, and he's offering suggestions for this week.

    To me, that is perfectly legitimate. As long as Google is one half the transaction, they have the right to remember that transaction.

  • by pr0t0 ( 216378 ) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @06:15PM (#34106410)

    I'd like to respond to these AC's for those who are reading this part of the discussion with interest:

    AC1) After the ordeal and due to extenuating circumstances, we had cause to have an attorney contact our cell carrier who then provided transcripts of that child's text messages. Through those, we found several references to suicide, as well as a "final goodbye" an hour before the attempt. My daughter wasn't some emo goth kid, always looking depressed. She seemed outright happy, even more so than usual in the week leading up to her attempt. She had good grades and played violin in the school orchestra. She wasn't an over-achiever or a type-a kind of person; and we aren't the kind of parents that pressure the kids into achievement. We want them to succeed, but be happy and stress-free too. She's just naturally talented, academically.

    It's not about spying. Parents have better things to do than read every single text message their kids send out. It is about having tools at your disposal if you think you need them. Kids don't always talk to their parents when things aren't going well, and parents can't make them.

    AC2) It is very likely they were already "broken toys" in some respects before they lived with me, but that in no way absolves me of responsibility in terms of how I parent or protect them. Despite my lack of biological input, they are very much "children of my own". Not so much because I say so...because they do. As the youngest once told me on Fathers Day: Anyone can be a father. It takes someone very special to be a dad. I tear up just typing it.

    AC3) While I won't stop worrying or caring when they're 18, my role in their lives will be diminished. Once they leave the house, it will be up to them to forge their path and make their decisions. See below.

    AC4) I suppose that is the slippery slope isn't it. It's the "Think of the Children" bumper sticker that gets slapped all over everything, and ends up having lasting implications and repercussions for everyone else. I really don't want that either. I think this decision is different for everyone, and different people may come to it at different points (or not at all) given the same set of circumstances. So I guess I'm saying, I won't insist that everyone should read their children's text messages, and in exchange for everyone not telling me what's best for my particular situation. Because if you haven't walked in my shoes, then you really don't have the right. You can try to empathize and see yourself in my situation, but you would be so far from the reality. You just don't know...and really can't know...unless you've gone through it. And if you aren't a parent, while your feelings aren't devoid of merit, you haven't earned a seat at the discussion.

    I know what I'm about to say next is total flame-bait for the younger readers. As long as you are a minor, you don't have the same expectation of privacy or freedom as you do when you're an adult. You can expect *some* level, but not total. Not having total freedom is no surprise to anyone living under the heavy mantle of their parents' Stalinist Regime. But privacy? Do parents honestly think their children should not have total privacy? This one does. I want to know where they are, whom they are with, and what they are doing at all times it is possible to know such things. Is it an invasion of privacy? Sure. But it's also being a good parent. I should I add that the level of this microscope was earned by my daughters. They used to have a lot more freedom and privacy. I do have some degree of trust in my daughters, I'm just not gullible. I know they will make mistakes. I know they will get hurt. I don't expect or even want them to be perfect. Happy, healthy, and safe is all I'm looking for. Everything else will be up to them. I wouldn't read their text messages any more than I would read their diary. If I thought their lives were in danger though? They can hate me for the rest of their lives. I'll just be grateful they have a "rest of their lives" in which they can hate me.

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982