Is Spy Phone Software Legal?

by tombok

Spy phone software is legal if used properly and ethically. How to stay on the right side of the law and your conscience.

This is a common question and as with most legal issues there is no simple answer. If you read the marketing blurb from most of the spy phone software providers you would think that it is fine to spy on anyone – from a spouse to your employees. The reality is quite different and can lead you into trouble with the Law.

Closer inspection of the software company’s websites will reveal their disclaimer, clearing them if you are caught using their products in an illegal way. In fact with most of them as you complete the buying process you must tick a box confirming that the software is to be installed on a cell phone which you own and that you will do so according to the law in your country. Fair enough I suppose but do you know the law in your country?

Most countries have strict privacy laws and they do differ as do the penalties for breaking them. There are a few main guidelines to keep you within the law but you do need to check the position in your own country. I have been dealing with this type of spy software for a few years and can share with you what I have found to be general rules to keep you right.

General Guidelines

You must own or have legal power over the cell phone you install the spy software on. is spy phone software legal
This is pretty clear; you cannot therefore go and install it on someone else’s phone. Of course if you have bought the phone for your child to use then you are the legal owner. Be careful though, the second part here will rule out buying your spouse or partner a phone and installing the software.
You must inform the adult user of the phone that it is in fact being monitored. This protects any adult whether spouse, partner or employee. You can use the software on a phone you give to them but only if you tell them it is monitored.

Catch a Cheating Spouse?

You might well wonder how on earth do you “catch a cheating spouse” as is often advertized. You can buy your partner a cell phone and install spy software but then you must tell them it has spy software on it and you can read their texts and even listen to their calls. I guess you can see the problem here? The truth is that you can not do this legally. Many people choose to take their chances and break the law but the software company is safe because you have agreed to the terms.

Something else to bear in mind – say you do go ahead and spy on your partners mobile, you cannot use this information for any legal action such as divorce proceedings as you will incriminate yourself. Some people will still justify the unlawful use just to have piece of mind or to confirm any suspicions.

I do not recommend this course of action. Apart from the legal issues there are moral issues to consider. If a relationship has deteriorated to the level of having to spy on your partner is it able to be saved?

When Can Spy Phone Software be Used Legally

For me, the best and most ethical way to use this type of software is to monitor your kid’s cell phones. As a parent you are responsible for their safety. This software can be used very effectively to monitor their phone and internet use, as well as track where they are. It is possible to do this without invading their privacy too much. You don’t need to constantly read their texts or listen to their calls but when you have any cause for concern you will have the ability to do a quick check on what they are up to. Piece of mind for the parents and safety for the kids.

Another good use is for monitoring company mobile phones. Here of course you must inform the employee that the cell phone is being monitored. The very act of telling them that it is monitored will usually mean that they take great care of when and how they use it. You can save a lot of money by reducing unauthorized use such as personal calls and internet browsing or Facebook. If your employee is on their Facebook account with the company mobile it is costing you for their time as well as the internet access!

For employee phone monitoring you have the added features such as tracking the phone. Now you can tell if they are where they are supposed to be during working hours. Once again though if you are tempted to spy on them illegally, without their knowledge, anything you discover can’t be used in any legal matters. If they discover they have been spied on you will be in serious trouble – think of the claim of damages alone. It is really not worth the risk.

There you have it – you can use spy phone software legally with a little due care. Try to act like James Bond and you could end up in trouble.

Updated: 03/12/2012, tombok
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