The NSA, FBI, state and local police aren't alone. Did you know that your boss, stalker, abusive ex-husband, or parent may be secretly monitoring your phone and internet use, using spyware installed on your devices? Mobistealth is one of the companies selling this shady spyware, presumably to anyone who can pay. Watch the video embedded above to see just what it's capable of doing.
Unsurprisingly, the government has thus far failed to regulate or ban these technologies, although in late 2012 Senator Al Franken introduced a decent (although somewhat problematic) bill that would, in the Washington Post's words,
make companies subject to civil liability if they fail to secure permission before obtaining location information from a person’s cellphone and sharing it with anyone else. They also would be liable if they fail to tell a user no later than seven days after the service begins that the program is running on their phone. Companies would face a criminal penalty if they knowingly operate an app with the intent to facilitate stalking.
Big surprise: the bill went nowhere! (Meanwhile, the government still maintains that it doesn't need a warrant to obtain our cell phone records or track our physical locations through our devices. Freedom!)
That means companies like Mobistealth are free to sell their spyware products to your boss, your ex-lover, and your parents. If you find out someone is stalking you using this technology, you might not have legal recourse to stop it.
But that's not all. The company and others like it also market their products to federal, state, and local law enforcement. A reporter who attended a government surveillance conference in Cambridge late last year tells me Mobistealth reps were there in the flesh, hawking their wares to cops. Do police get warrants before they install this gear onto their targets' phones? Who knows! (We are trying to find out.)
Watch the video at the top of this page to see just how invasive is this kind of surveillance; it's really chilling. Send the video to people who say they don't care about someone spying on them if they aren't doing anything wrong. Maybe ask if they'll let you install Mobistealth on their phone and laptop; tell them you think it'll keep them safe. After they recoil in horror, show them this, which makes Mobistealth look like child's play.
Also, for laughs, check out the video below, a "review" of Mobistealth spyware from a satisfied customer (slash paid actor — hard to tell!).
Please note that by playing this clip YouTube and Google will place a long-term cookie on your computer.