It’s bad enough checking your partner’s phone when they leave the room, or taking a peek at their Facebook page, yet a new app takes this level of snooping not just a step further, but a giant leap forward.
The mSpy app works on select smartphones including Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone and can be used to gain access to an unprecedented level of personal information.
It records phone calls, tracks a person’s location, lets users remotely read texts, Skype, Facebook and Viber messages, view browsing history and even see how much battery the phone has left.
According to Oregon-based mSpy’s website the app is designed for ‘monitoring your children, employees or others on a smartphone or mobile device’.
However, it adds the person doing the spying must own the device being tracked, or the person being tracked must give their permission.
To use the app, spies must pay a monthly fee that starts at £24.99 for a limited range of features, up to £44.99 for access to them all.
Spies can also use the app to view videos and photos stored on a device, see the phone owner’s list of applications and software updates, open their calendar, notes and tasks, and even get hold of the phone’s unique IMEI number.
They can additionally remotely lock or wipe a device, block websites and calls from certain contacts as well as record the person’s surroundings.
People wanting to use the app do need to physically install it onto the phone they wish to track, yet once installed mSpy promises the app is 100 per cent undetectable.
This is because the app runs it what the company calls ‘stealth mode’ and doesn’t appear in the phone owner’s apps list.
It works in a similar way to encryption lockers that are designed to be hidden deliberately and can only be found by the installer. These apps, however, are designed to protect information and privacy.
Subscribers can choose to sync the data automatically, only over Wi-Fi, or manually and if automatic sync is selected the data is updated every 30 minutes.
Users can then track this information from anywhere by signing into an online account and viewing it all on a dashboard.
The dashboard produces charts that show which apps have been used and how often, while the person’s location is plotted on to a map.
‘We do have quite a large portion of our customers who use mSPY specifically to catch a cheating spouse,” mSPy’s Tatiana Ameri told ABC 22 news.
But added ‘We do ask our users to make sure they’ve got their monitored partners consent.’
According to mSpy the app works on Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Symbian, however, it will only work on jailbroken iOS devices and doesn’t work with iOS 7. Android phones, similarly, need to be rooted.
Subscribers can install the app on multiple devices to track different children in a family, for example, or employees.
Commenting on the app, Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, told MailOnline: ‘The fact companies are selling extremely intrusive spyware so brazenly begs the question if we are properly protecting people from snooping by their boss, parents or indeed anyone who has enough time to install the app on their phone.
‘This is the kind of technology you’d expect the security services to be using, not for sale with the click of a mouse. You don’t teach kids to think about their privacy by secretly listening to their calls or reading their emails, nor do you create a productive working environment by routinely snooping on your employees.
‘Buried in the small print is the fact it is illegal to monitor someone’s phone without notifying them, but the risks of abuse are only too clear and this kind of technology needs to be much more tightly regulated.’