Crime and Punishment

NY Assemblyman Threatens to Ban Spying Apps That Probably Don’t Even Work

Spying apps might meet the banhammer.
"I See You HD Lite" (Photo: iTunes)

“I See You HD Lite” (Photo: iTunes)

Those so-called “spying” apps that populate app marketplaces can turn anyone into a DIY-stalker, and one New York assemblyman simply won’t stand for it. Micah Kellner (D-Manhattan) is pushing for Google and Apple to pull apps with the serious sounding names of “Spy2Mobile,” “iTrack” and “I See You HD Lite” from their app stores because he believes they can enable stalking and abuse.

The apps can secretly track people’s phones by pulling their data, including emails and texts, albeit only with the user’s permission. Assemblyman Kellner is worried that crazy people will download the programs without their partner’s permission and commence operation stalk-a-spouse.

Of course, the apps are categorized in the store’s “Entertainment” section by warning downloaders that it’s all in good fun, but Mr. Kellner said it can lead to crimes, like illegal wiretapping.

“They have no legitimate purpose,” said Mr. Kellner to WCBS-880 AM, who is pushing a bill that makes it illegal for the apps to be sold. Fines range between $1,000 to $5,000 per violation for chronic offenders. He fears the apps make it easier for stalkers to track and prey on their victims.

“This is stalking for the 21st century, the idea that you can be omnipresent in somebody’s life,” he told the New York Daily News. “It’s an illegal wire tap.”

Mr. Kellner told Google and Apple to scrap the apps from their stories or else he’s prepared to pass legislation to somehow make it illegal for the apps to be sold in New York. Google has complied, but as the Daily News notes, the apps remained for sale in iTunes.

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