back to article FTC bans 'brazen' stalkerware maker SpyFone, orders data deletion, alerts to victims

America's trade watchdog today banned stalkerware developer SpyFone and its CEO from the surveillance industry, effectively putting an end to its business. The outfit makes an Android app that can be secretly installed on someone's smartphone; once in place, the software relays back information about the handheld and its user …

  1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    FAIL

    THREE YEARS!

    "someone did compromise SpyFone's back-end systems three years ago"

    I'm sorry, but how come this company has been operating for three years? Shouldn't the FTC have shut them down a while ago? OK so this is the USA, which doesn't have GDPR, but surely one has some expectation of privacy?

    A pretty good advert for the other evil empire - Apple*

    *(Yes, I know, I'm a hypocrite, I have both iMac and iPhone, don't remind me. But what's the choice?)

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: THREE YEARS!

      I'm sorry, but how come this company has been operating for three years?

      I'll probably set a record for downvotes but it's possible that the last administration didn't care or perhaps the party was using it for their purposes. With all the crap that's coming out, it seems possible since they had the say as to who was in charge of the FTC.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: THREE YEARS!

      And that's only since the data breach. SpyPhone was operating before that, but I don't know for how long.

      "We will be aggressive about seeking surveillance bans "

      You need to be a bit more aggressive than that, I think.

    3. katrinab Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: THREE YEARS!

      Because the legal process takes time. I don't think things would happen any faster in countries that have GDPR. The Chinese government would probably have them in the execution chamber in a matter of days.

  2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    RE: "I'm sorry, but how come this company has been operating for three years?"

    Simple. They were probably very good at staying under the radar. A decent hacker can stay can stay in a system for months because they don't do anything that gets noticed.

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    that the app could be used to “surreptitiously monitor photos, text messages, web histories, GPS locations, and other personal information of the phone on which the app was installed without the device owner’s knowledge.”

    I guess you can do it only if you are 10,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000,​000 with e, or that fruit... what was it called again? A pear?

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    On the basis that every smartphone is a computer (maybe the FTC hasn't realised this) every installation amounts to breaking into a computer. Isn't that a criminal offence in the US?

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      For the customer, but not if they install it on their own phone. Which would be why they were marketing it at parents and employers, even if they knew that wasn't the real customer base.

  5. JWLong

    Ain't this the same shit.........

    ......that Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, so on and so forth do without having to jailbreak or escalate privilege to do so.

    So now this clown just moves to UbangieLand and continues on.

    FTC, Fuck'n Titsup Clowns in this matter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ain't this the same shit.........

      Yes.

      Location tracking yes

      Phone Use

      Keyboard, Gboard sends it too for the auto suggestions!

      Everything, and via the unique id linked to the Google Play id, which usually demands a phone number and account details.

      But that's OK, because the people watching those feeds have hi-viz jackets and you don't, so that's fine then.

      Given Google's deal to pay Netflix to use Google Play exclusively (I assume thats why their APK has gone), means they also get Netflix customer real IDs. I think they also probably did a deal with Mozilla because Mozilla no longer provide links to the raw APK. Again it is probably a paid-exclusive APK forcing Google Play tracking on Firefox Android users.

      It's funny, in the last few days, people only just realized that Google Facebook etc. are surveillance tracking companies! Here's Forbes realizing Chrome is an enabler for that too:

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2021/08/28/stop-using-google-chrome-on-windows-10-android-and-apple-iphones-ipads-and-macs/

      And the 'Sky selling internet logs to anti-piracy lawyers' story... but its only the piracy part of the logs right Sky? Right Sky? Right? Yes? No?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Ah, Forbes.

        "A shocking new tracking admission from Google "

        It's only new to you, Forbes. Only to you.

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Ain't this the same shit.........

        Given that Sky is the company that "loses money" if you "pirate" a football match, it is plausible that yes, it is only the piracy part of the logs. Because of course every single person who "pirates" a football stream would pay £9.98 for a NowTV day pass if they weren't to "pirate" it.

  6. SuperGeek

    Zuck...

    Why do all spying, scumbag arsehole's names start with Zucker?

    Notice a pattern?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Zuck...

      Zuckerberg's evil twin, perhaps ?

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: Zuck...

        Zuckerberg's MORE evil twin, perhaps?

        FTFY

  7. VicMortimer

    It would probably be more productive to ban brazen spyware iOS 15.

  8. Chris G

    Brilliant work

    This app seems to have been designed to perfectly mimic the properties of a social media app or phone OS.

    It's nice to know someone out there is looking out for us.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CEO Scott Zuckerman

    you say Zuckerman, I read Zuckerberg...

    ... "secretly harvested and shared data on people’s physical movements, phone use, and online activities"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So no jail time for the owners, then, eh?

    Pity.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like