back to article Fresh stalkerware crop pops up on Google's Android Play Store, swiftly yanked offline

Seven new stalkerware apps have been spotted for sale on the Android Play Store, despite Google's policy against the invasive monitoring tools. By stalkerware, we mean applications scumbags can install on their spouse's or partner's device, or dodgy bosses on staffers' handhelds, to silently track their whereabouts, web …

  1. RyokuMas


    "The Chocolate Factory's developer policies strictly forbid stalkerware and other covert tracking tools, and once alerted Google is usually quick to remove offending apps."

    Isn't that abuse of a monopoly to put competitors out of business?

    1. Is It Me

      Re: Monopoly!

      I know you tagged it as a joke, but I am going to bite.

      There are other apps stores out there, including Amazon's which doesn't need any alterations to security settings.

      Also there are a lot of apps that can still track you on the store as well as Google does, but they are apps that are designed to be installed by the owner/user of the phone and spy on the user of the phone for the business that wrote the app.

      These ones are designed to spy on the phone for another person.

      Plus you have confused this with the Apple App Store, where no compation is allowed to anything that Apple makes.

      1. RyokuMas

        Re: Monopoly!

        I think you rather missed the point...

        The joke is that Google's entire business model is based on spying on people - hence they are "using their monopoly" over the largest smartphone app market to stamp out others who want to spy on people.

        Apple on the other hand base their business model on trying to sell an overpriced brand to people who think that that sort of thing matters, so of course they want to lock you into their ecosystem. And yes, I'm sure they spy on their users too, and would certainly stamp out any apps designed to spy on others in a similar manner - but because these apps are not about selling a brand, they are not "competition" to Apple...

      2. iron Silver badge

        Re: Monopoly!

        "There are other apps stores out there, including Amazon's which doesn't need any alterations to security settings."

        Err... yes it does. Installing the Amazon Appstore requires allowing installation from unknown sources for your browser - a major change to security settings. And, Amazon Appstore itself needs the same permission in order to install any apps - another major change to security settings.

      3. xanda

        Re: Monopoly!

        I can just hear Google shout out 'Daffyd Thomas' style: "I am the ONLY stalker in the village!"

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Monopoly!

        where no compation is allowed to anything that Apple makes

        Utter bullshit, unless you think Spotify and WhatsApp and any number of email apps and so forth don't exist on Apple's app store.

  2. Nick Kew

    Grey area?

    I wonder how they deal with the abuse of legitimate apps?

    For example, a delivery company perfectly legitimately tracks its deliveries, and these days even enables customers to track their package up to the point of delivery. Similarly others in transportation or callout businesses. That capability could presumably also be abused, for example by disabling any alert it gives the user about being installed and active.

    Is Google in the position of someone who deals in guns, cars or knives: just basic prescribed Due Diligence required? Or is the pressure on them so intense that such apps are taboo?

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: Grey area?

      Presumably those apps are not installed from the public Play store but via enterprise deployment tools. No doggy shenanigans required.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Grey area?

      Those apps don't hide the fact that they're running once installed.

  3. MrMerrymaker

    Google's motives

    Probably developing its own product for creepin' as we speak!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google's motives

      Bit behind the times aren't we?

      Ask yourself these simple questions...

      What software products come out of the Chocolate Factory? (Android and Chrome/Chromium)

      Do these slurp data? (Well, Yes they do given half a chance)

      And you have your answer.

      It would be very easy for them to slip in a 'full tracking component' into an update and they will be king of the castle and there is little you can do to stop them tracking you wherever you go.

      Once you accept that Google is in business to gather as much data on as many people as possible what they are doing makes perfect sense.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Google's motives

        Indeed, my ageing Android phone kept slowing to a crawl and I tracked this to Google Play services activating apropos of nothing, apparently. So I went in and looked at it appalled by the huge amount of data it had accumulated despite me using a Startpage app not Google for searches, and deleted the data. It pesters me about my data 'not being backed up' but my phone no longer turns to custard.

        I just went in an looked again and it had accumulated multi megabites of new data so I delete it all again. I have not noticed any impacts on stuff I do or need. This bloatware I cannot delete or inhibit squats on my device and spies on my usage.

    2. MrMerrymaker

      Re: Google's motives

      ... Though on the upside their equivalent would get discontinued out the blue in a few years..

  4. Buzzword


    So what apps are you allowed to use to track your kids? Asking for a friend...

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: Parents

      I used to use Cerberus for tracking the location & activities of my youngest.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Parents

      I use Life360, allows my daughter to see where I am and for me to keep track of her. Reasonably accurate, for extra bux you can also track their driving habits. It is not a secret though so I can't see the issue.

  5. MadonnaC

    They take down these apps, but still allow Absher to exist.

  6. Withdrawn

    I find it telling...

    that some of these are pitched as a way to spy on employees. Disgraceful the kind of society we live in.

    Also, I'll never understand why one would keep an employee they can't trust.

  7. Mayday Silver badge


    I suppose people agreed to that one. Not that I even looked at it.

    "You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you. When you post or otherwise share User Content on or through our Services, you understand that your User Content and any associated information (such as your [username], location or profile photo) will be visible to the public.

    — FaceApp terms of use, "

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: FaceApp

      Pretty much the standard Social Media rights grab. If you are a creative, having a social media account and posting your work on one is the worst thing you can do.

  8. Ashentaine

    "Track Employees Check Work Phone Online Spy Free" sounds like exactly the kind of dodgy thing the BOFH's boss would download. Surely that will finally provide proof that all those "strategy meetings" are really just 2 PM pub visits.

  9. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Turn off the data

    I typically turn my data and wifi off when I'm not using them. I also have a permissions application running to help limit what apps can access. For some reason Firefox has been trying to access my camera. I don't let it, not that it can see past the tape on the selfie cam.

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