Researchers Say Canadian Laws Fail To Protect People From ‘Stalkerware’

A Report from researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab popped up yesterday and effectively says that Canadian laws are failing to protect the victims of cellphone “stalkerware”. Now “stalkerware” is usually marketed as apps for people who want to monitor the cellphone activity of children or employees. But many people download them to spy on people. Specifically those in intimate relationships. Here’s why that matters:

The apps can enable real-time and remote access to text messages, emails, photos, videos, incoming and outgoing phone calls, GPS location, banking or other account passwords, social media accounts, and more. Stalkerware apps are sometimes used covertly while, in other circumstances, the technology is used openly to intimidate, harass, or extort the surveillance target.

Hundreds of spyware apps relevant to IPS are available at the consumer level. Research conducted in Canada and internationally suggests that a significant proportion of women who experience intimate partner violence, abuse, and harassment also report experiences with a range of technology-facilitated abuse, including surveillance and abuse that is enabled by the powerful mobile device spyware apps that are the focus of this report. Despite this troubling context, few reported cases involving spyware-enabled IPS have appeared in Canadian courts, and spyware companies, which profit from the sale of these apps, appear to operate in the Canadian marketplace without being hindered by criminal or regulatory law enforcement.

Clearly there’s a gap here that needs to be filled. Hopefully those gaps will be filled as people read this report and realize that action needs to be taken as apps like these can’t be allowed to exist without rules, boundaries and limitations being placed around them.


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