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U.S. Government Shuts Down Stalker Software Company

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It’s a surveillance software that can spy on the texts, calls, location, and social media of romantic partners without their consent. But in an unprecedented move, the Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday that it was banning the maker of the stalkerware, SpyFone.

The FTC also banned the CEO of the company, Scott Zuckerman, from the surveillance business over allegations that he and his company have been running “brazen” invasions of Americans’ privacy for years.

SpyFone’s products, which have been on sale since 2018, give stalkers near-total visibility into victims’ every move on their phones, according to the FTC. The products, which range from $99.95 per year to a more premium version that costs nearly $500 annually, are capable of tracking victims’ text messages, call history, live GPS location, emails, keystrokes, video chats, notifications, contacts, pictures, calendars, files, and social media, according to the FTC complaint obtained by The Daily Beast. Some of SpyFone’s products can also give abusers the ability to remotely take pictures, record calls, and record audio through the victim’s microphone as well.

"SpyFone is a brazen brand name for a surveillance business that helped stalkers steal private information," said Samuel Levine, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. "The stalkerware was hidden from device owners, but was fully exposed to hackers who exploited the company’s slipshod security. This case is an important reminder that surveillance-based businesses pose a significant threat to our safety and security. We will be aggressive about seeking surveillance bans when companies and their executives egregiously invade our privacy."

As the FTC noted, what made SpyFone particularly invasive—beyond its powerful monitoring capabilities—was that it lurked on the phones without showing an icon on a victim’s phone.

The move to ban the stalkerware comes amid renewed calls for law........

© The Daily Beast

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