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More Than Half of People Believe Using Spyware To Snoop On Family Members Is Legal, Study Finds (betanews.com) 159

An anonymous reader writes: A new study shows that 53 percent of people believe it's legal to install a program on a family member's phone to snoop on their activity. The survey of more than 2,000 people in the US and UK by software comparison service Comparitech.com also finds 57 percent would consider spying on their children's phone conversations and messages. [...] It is generally illegal to install an app on another person's phone without their knowledge. Though this does depend on the circumstances. "It's a legal grey area, in that the laws haven't been truly tested in this arena as of yet since the technology is relatively new, so as relevant cases move through the legal system they'll be decided on a case by case basis," says Josh King, a legal expert in privacy laws and the chief legal officer of Avvo, an online legal marketplace in the US. "Intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud claims -- all could be implicated, depending on the circumstances. It's also possible that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act could be used to prosecute someone who installs this type of app on someone else's phone."
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More Than Half of People Believe Using Spyware To Snoop On Family Members Is Legal, Study Finds

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  • Parents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jamu ( 852752 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:01PM (#54363779)
    I'm guessing that half is the parents, and the other half - that disagrees - is the children.
    • Re:Parents (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:56PM (#54364103)

      Been there, done (some of) that. I am completely behind monitoring kids' activities' online. My daughters are now 22 and 23 and have always had their own computers. When their computers were put on my LAN and went online (they were 7 and 8), I moved their computers out of their bedroom and into the family room. That was the case until they got notebooks (12 and 13), at which point the notebooks had to stay on the first floor (kitchen and family room). They had cell phones when they were 7 and 8, with the understanding that I would regularly be inspecting the phones. Later on (because they were pretty good kids) regular inspections went out the door, but they knew that I might demand their phone at any time and look through it.

      When my younger one was 17, I noticed unusual changes in her behavior and thoughts, even though my wife was completely oblivious to them. After a couple of months of this, one night I asked her to hand over her phone. She did and I basically discovered that she had been seeing a 35 year old man she met during her physical therapy for her knee for a few months. Of course I was furious, but had I not monitored her activity, she would probably have married the asshole and ruined her life and future. I asked for all her credentials (email, FB, etc), changed her passwords, and she wasn't allowed online for 2 months, during which I had to erase the brainwashing that had been done to her during the past few months.

      Without monitoring, she would never have offered up any information regarding the changes she was not going through. Before you go all out and call me a clueless parent, let me tell you that I have always been upfront with my kids and no subject has ever been taboo. We did and still do discuss anything and everything and I am and have always been very close to them. When I got home from work (around 7 PM) and started cooking dinner, they were pretty much required to be around the kitchen/family room (and no TV in the family room either), and we always ate dinner together. The point I'm trying to get to is that, with ALL OF THAT, she still fell prey to some douche bag and had I not been monitoring her activity, worst things could have happened.

      Should you monitor your kids? Absolutely. Do it. If you don't, you'll never know what they're getting into. My friend is a high school counselor and she tells me about high school kids' lives. Their relationships with their parents are far from the relationship I had with my kids during their high school years, so I really wonder if those parents are aware of what goes on in their kids' lives. I really don't give a shit about the court system coming and telling me I can't put a keylogger on my kid's computer. Let them. I'll fight them and probably win. I don't care if they want to prosecute me for putting a GPS tracker underneath my car that is dedicated to my kids' driving it around. You want to know why? Because raising a kid is hard enough without having to worry about predators out there. If putting that GPS tracker underneath the car, keylogger on my their computer, surveillance software on their notebooks and phone, or any other means of tracking them allows me to sleep better and helps keep them out of harm's way, the government can kiss my ass and fight me in court.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So, where did you hide his body?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          So, where did you hide his body?

          You will have to check his phone to find that one out.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why did you have to cook dinner after working all day. Meanwhile the useless wife is oblivious to the kids running out of control.

        Look up codependence. I lived that nightmare.

        Loser.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Why did you have to cook dinner after working all day. Meanwhile the useless wife is oblivious to the kids running out of control.

          Look up codependence. I lived that nightmare.

          Loser.

          Preach. I'm happily divorced from my narcissist myself! No kids, fuck that bitch!

    • "The government does it all the time so it's got to be legal, doesn't it?"
    • Since children don't enjoy the same protections as adults I'm going to say that you are incorrect. In fact, in the vast majority of cases the phone is purchased and paid for by the parents, and technically is the parents phone. I'm sure 5 people will now mod you overrated and mod ME to +5 to correct the situation, because Slashdot, as we all know, is THE HOME of common sense and justice on the internet ;-)
  • by nwaack ( 3482871 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:02PM (#54363783)
    If I'm paying for my kids phone I'll do whatever the hell I please with it.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If I'm paying for my kids phone I'll do whatever the hell I please with it.

      That may sound logical, but the laws against wiretapping don't actually care that you own the telephone you're tapping.

      https://www.mwl-law.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/LAWS-ON-RECORDING-CONVERSATIONS-CHART.pdf

      • by lsllll ( 830002 )
        You're not a parent (or a good one), are you?
      • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:39PM (#54363999)

        While the courts may not care that you own the phone, most do care that it's your child. Because a minor isn't capable of providing consent on their own behalf, most courts recognize the notion of "vicarious consent", that is, that the parent can consent on behalf of the child to wiretap the child's phone call. This sort of stuff comes up in divorce cases where one parent wants to tape the calls between a child and another parent.

        There's some additional information here: http://scholarship.law.edu/cgi... [law.edu]

        Usual disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, I merely play the part of an armchair lawyer when online.

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        As the other person mentioned, guardians usually have the power to make decisions for their children. Even without that tell your kid, its a condition of the phone.
    • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:24PM (#54363891)

      If I'm paying for my kids phone I'll do whatever the hell I please with it.

      Phones are bought.

      Trust is earned.

      Good luck with that shit. Legally and otherwise.

      • Trust goes both ways. If you've earned your parents trust enough that they don't feel they have to monitor the phone they bought for you, then good for you. But if they insist on monitoring your phone, they're not violating your trust. It is you who have not yet earned their trust.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      You can monitor but you should not secretly monitor. Keep in mind if you are prompted to secretly monitor you children, do no be surprised if that gene is not passed on and they choose to secretly monitor you. Annoy your children enough and don't be surprised when something extremely embarrassing appears online.

    • by allo ( 1728082 )

      Your boss is paying for your computer AND your work and it's still very limited what he is allowed to install on your pc, when it comes to monitoring tools. And yes, it IS very limited, even when many companies do more than they are allowed to do.

  • If I'm paying for the phone and the monthly bill, and the phone is registered to my name, I can install whaterver snooping software I want on it.

    Not that I would, because for one if my kids want a cellphone they can work and earn enough to pay for it themselves, and two I believe that treating them like real human beings and respecting their privacy is the right thing to do.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      I put my teenage son a guest account on my computer back in the 90s so he could do email and school work and surf the web. I told him straight up that I had root access to the computer and not to do anything he didn't want me to know about because I was probably going to look. Had zero problems.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Depends on the situation. My stepdaughter is a real human being but has been caught doing inappropriate and illegal things and plead with us to get her an iPhone. Stipulation being we either get to monitor her remotely or she never ignore our calls or let the phone die without calling us and updating us on what she is doing. To make a long story short she didn't follow the rules because she is a real human being teenager and got raped and has not recovered.

    • If I'm paying for the phone and the monthly bill, and the phone is registered to my name, I can install whaterver snooping software I want on it.

      Not that I would, because for one if my kids want a cellphone they can work and earn enough to pay for it themselves, and two I believe that treating them like real human beings and respecting their privacy is the right thing to do.

      You might want to review the wiretapping laws before trying to defend yourself by waiving a cell phone bill in the judges face. The laws can be rather horrifying regardless of parental right.

      That said, I'm rather glad you respect your children's privacy. We both know as parents trust is earned, and is often not easily restored.

  • My kids don't have the ability to sign a contract, nor do they own a phone. They are allowed to use one that I own and pay for because they are basically good kids and I love them, but should I choose to listen in on their conversations I reserve that right. Just as I have the right as account holder to track and deactivate the device should I choose. That is part of being a parent, and/or responsible guardian. Do you know where your children are now :)

    • The point is, if you're a good parent, and have taught your kids well, you shouldn't have to listen to their conversations of surveil them. This poll is a reflection at how weak parents have become. Parents didn't used to have any of these tools and yet society has brought us to this point. Pretty damn sad really.
      • by Archfeld ( 6757 )

        If I got mouthy and I did a few times, I got my butt smacked. If a parent tried that today they'd end up in jail with their kids in Child Protective Services. I don't see how a timeout resolves the situation, nor teaches the precious little snowflake a lesson in reality. Children who wander off into the proverbial wilderness get eaten by the big bad wolf, or cooked by the wicked witch. Contemporary children who misbehave get a participation trophy and some form of add/adhd drug...

        • The alternative to smacking children is to frighten them by reasoning with them. The world is a frightening place and not telling them the truth about that is doing them a disservice. It is beautiful but it is also dangerous. The PSA with the cardboard child and the steamroller scared me right out of the street and I knew better than to get into a van for FREE CANDY because my parents made it clear to me that some adults want to harm or even kill children.

          • by Archfeld ( 6757 )

            You have much luck reasoning with a four year old ? When they get a wee bit older you can actually talk with them but I found a firm smack on the butt far more effective at getting their attention and stopping the developing tantrum in its' tracks. Note I am not suggesting routinely beating your children or anything that archaic, but a small show of force lasts a long time and draws a big don't cross line in the proverbial sand.

            • I found that setting expectations and paying attention to the kid worked just fine. No need for physical punishment. YMMV.

    • I can just see the Verizon ads now...

      "Do you love your kids? Of course you do! That's why you need to give them the new Samsung Galaxy S8!"
  • by LeftCoastThinker ( 4697521 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:07PM (#54363811)

    With all that is out there lurking for children to prey upon, you can sure as hell bet that I will be monitoring MY phones that I pay for and I buy service for that I allow my minor children to use. Please point to the US law that makes this illegal because there is not one, it is not a gray area at all. Children only have a small subset of rights, and privacy from monitoring by their parents is not included. That common law goes back hundreds of years in the US and thousands of years before that in Europe.

    • That would be state and federal wiretapping statutes. According to this law review article, you're on very thin ice even if you're in a one-party consent state: http://digitalcommons.law.seat... [seattleu.edu]

      In a one party state, you'd be relying on the doctrine of "vicarious consent", which parents can sometimes do for children, because of our culture's disgusting history of treating children like subhumans that are their parents' property, and which is exactly as stupid as it sounds. It's also not a slam dunk to win

      • Sorry, the first article that you cite is looking at the legality to RECORD a phone call, which is not the same as LISTEN to (or as I termed, monitor). Furthermore, even most (or at least my) two party consent states have an exception for citizens recording their calls when there is an expectation that a crime is being committed or will be captured by recording the call. Further, if the common number I have causes my phone to ring when the phone that I have provided to my child also rings and I pick up b

  • by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:12PM (#54363835)

    In many countries, parents spying on their underage children, their communications and their location at any time is not only fully legal, it is expected of the parents.

  • If you're married, it is generally presumed that things are owned jointly. So, "our" phone.

    If it's a child and you are their guardian, it's generally "my phone" even if it was a gift or someone gave it to them.

  • ... this is what they learned from the gov. agencies in the latest years. It's close to the Soviet Union communism: everyone spying everyone.
  • by xession ( 4241115 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:28PM (#54363919)
    I'd bet most of the parents for millenials and older weren't so damn intrusive on the lives of their children. Hell, when I was a kid, most parents seemed to want you to come back or check in maybe every 4 hours at best. And now, parents want their kids in the home and heavily monitored with what they are doing. What gives?

    If you're a quality parent, then you should be able to trust your kid until they give a significant reason not to trust you. Monitoring them only encourages learning better sleuthing to get around it. Teach your damn kids what you expect of them up front, enforce it and them trust them to stick to it until they don't. Not being able to trust your kid to do anything without being able to surveil their every move, is a pretty strong reflection on how weak your parenting skills really are.
    • by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @08:24PM (#54364891)

      Hell, when I was a kid, most parents seemed to want you to come back or check in maybe every 4 hours at best. And now, parents want their kids in the home and heavily monitored with what they are doing. What gives?

      ^^^ This guy has it. All things being equal, why not monitor the heck out of your kids? Even if it's a small chance something bad is going to happen, might as well be safe right? No.

      The problem is all things aren't equal. By monitoring them, you rob them of the life experience of learning how to deal with things on their own and solve their own problems. Not to mention, you teach them about a big scary world where bad things are lurking around every corner, as opposed to one that's open for them to enjoy and experience.

      The benefit you get from removing that minutely small chance they'll be preyed up online (or whatever, I'm honestly at a loss what people think they are protecting their kids from) isn't worth robbing them of life skills.

  • by Drakonblayde ( 871676 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:28PM (#54363921)

    For kids it's a no brainer. They don't legally possess property, and they can't legally enter into a contract with a phone provider, which means they need someone else to obtain the device and access to use it for them. As such, just because they happen to use it, doesn't mean they own it, and the owner can do with their property as they see fit.

    Same goes for the computers in the house. The kids have their own computers, but I have them heavily locked down in what they can do, both at the individual host level, and the network level.

    Once they come of age, I will officially transfer ownership of their devices to them and remove any restrictions or monitoring on them (provided, of course, that they obtain their own cell phone contracts).

    Now, if I were to slip some spyware onto my wifes computer or phone, or my mother in law's when she visits, or that deadbeat cousin who crashes with us for a few months before he finds another job, then I'm probably in violation of doing anything to their devices. Their network traffic is still fair game though, since I own and administer the pipes they're using while in my house.

  • "Legal" does not even come into the picture here. Anybody that is not total scum will immediately see how utterly immoral such an action is.

  • Everything in my house is my property. I paid for it, the wife, the kids, the pets, the electronics. If I feel like bugging any of my stuff, no one can do a damn thing about it, except bring me a sandwich, beer, and lay on my lap while I watch the big sportsball game.

    Patriarchal screech! REEEEE!

    In all seriousness, I'll bug any damn thing I want to bug that I paid money for and is applicable with my state's laws.

  • What about advertisers that put spy software in apps? I say put them in prison!
  • American women more likely to spy on partners’ phone and internet activity

    I believe this confirms the adage, "bitches be trippin'" ;)

  • Foolish Americans, thinking they can behave the same way as their corporate counterparts. Only in the quest for profits is one idemnified from prosecution for spying, fraud, and theft.
  • Headline - "More Than Half of People Believe Using Spyware To Snoop On Family Members Is Legal, Study Finds"

    Article - "Well, it might be"

    • Legal precedent on this one actually seems to vary from state-to-state. Also note that it's a federal crime for companies to compile personal identifying information of children under the age of 13. So if you're using a 3rd party data service for this type of spying, on a cellphone contract you've signed yourself for a physical device you then handed to a child under 13...

  • But, hey, it's in our State Constitution.

    Not like you care about the Rule of Law, am I right?

  • This has never been challenged in court (as far as I know), but I am fairly sure (and I a am not a lawyer) that the standard is going to be that if it is legal for you to see the bill, it is legal for you to tap the phone. The phone bill is a protected postal communication. It cannot be legally examined without a warrant by anyone to whom it is not addressed (once it's been delivered, anyway.. not sure about misdelivered mail). And if you can see the bill, you can see the list of all phone calls, so priv

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