Maybe you already feel like you're being watched. Cameras and listening devices are everywhere from stores to street corners, even right in front of you on the digital devices you use every day. In addition, websites and apps constantly track your browsing habits so marketers can try to sell you things.
But "they" might not be the only source watching you. Instead, it could be the person sitting next to you.
Cybercrooks are always waiting for you to slip up so they can steal from you, but is your significant other doing the same thing on a much more personal level? A lot of apps available today are being marketed as a tool for parents, but they're also being used by those suspicious of their partner.
A number of apps being sold via Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store can monitor and record calls, texts, location, browsing history and your activity on social media apps. They can even check your battery level.
Many people use these apps to keep tabs on their children. Employers might use these apps on company-owned phones. But looking at reviews, you'll more often see they're being used by people to find out if their significant other is up to no good. Take this review for example:
Take mSpy, which the company describes as the "ultimate monitoring software for parenting control." It's compatible with iOS and Android devices and can track just about any activity on a phone - for a price. A basic plan for $29.99 a month will monitor calls, emails, Internet browsing history and other records. Make a big jump to $69.99 a month for a premium subscription and you've then got access to activity on numerous social apps like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Skype and Tinder.
Once installed on a device, the icon can even be hidden from a smartphone's home screen. It can only be found if you know what to look for.
Another discreet app called Text, Message, Notification, Location Remote Spy is similar to mSpy, but not quite as full-featured. It'll perform similar functions on iOS and Android devices, and also comes with a monthly subscription.
The fine print
Reviews on these apps show how they're being used, but it could get you in trouble. These apps are only supposed to be installed on devices you own, and only on other devices as long as that person has given permission to do so. A legal disclaimer on mSpy reads: "The violation of this requirement could result in severe monetary and criminal penalties imposed on the violator."
So if you suspect your partner is hiding things from you, using these apps as a way to prove it could lead to serious legal hardship for you down the line. And if you think you're being watched, run a detailed check of every app on your smartphone, looking for anything buried in settings that shouldn't be there.
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