In a landmark case, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has banned SpyFone and CEO Scott Zuckerman from selling stalkerware apps, which were used to secretly harvest and share data on people’s movements, phone usage, and online activities in a way that wasn’t easily detectable by the victim. In addition to fines, the company is required to delete all stored data and notify users that their phone had been compromised.
The FTC has taken action against stalkerware companies before, but this is the first time they’ve been able to secure a sales ban. Equally important, the requirement to inform users that they have been compromised will expose related forms of abuse and empower survivors to take additional legal action.
“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.”