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Crackdown on spying apps leads to StealthGenie CEO's arrest

Edgar Alvarez, @abcdedgar
September 30, 2014
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Apparently, the US government is now on a mission to bring down mobile applications offering spyware services -- which, for a variety of well-documented reasons, simply seems kind of ironic. Controversy aside though, the Department of Justice revealed today that Hammad Akbar, CEO of StealthGenie, had been arrested in Los Angeles and charged with conspiracy, advertisement of a known interception device, advertising a device as a surreptitious interception device and sale of such a device. StealthGenie, which had been available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry, was known for providing an app capable of monitoring someone's calls, texts and photos, as well as tracking their location and more. StealthGenie wasn't shy about doing that either; a quick glance at a StealthGenie promotional video, found after the break, sums up the ideals behind the application and the consumers it targeted.

"So you want to keep an eye on your loved one or your employees, because you suspect they're hiding something and it might get too late?" the video asks. "How do you know where they are or what they're doing right now? Maybe they're not really telling you the truth about their activities or whereabouts." Eventually, after a few seconds, StealthGenie claims to be the solution for those needs: "You are worried, so you wonder if the only way to find out is to know what they do on their cellphones right away," says the message. "You know that's the only way to give you all the answers. What you need right now is a solution that lets you uncover the truth by secretly monitoring all the activities of your loved one or employee, and let you know their location at all times."


As the DOJ points out in its briefing of the situation, the app was undetectable by users who were likely being spied on, which made it rather easy for StealthGenie's creepy magic to go untraced. Interestingly enough, Akbar's criminal case is the first one ever having to do with the advertisement and sale of a mobile spyware app -- and something tells us we're going to see more of this type as people adopt new technologies like smartphones and tablets.

"People ought to be able to control who can access their sensitive information, and stalking apps on cellphones directly violate that principle," outspoken Sen. Al Franken said regarding StealthGenie and the arrest of its CEO. "Currently, there is no federal law banning the secret collection of location data. That's why we need to pass my legislation to ban stalking apps once and for all."

"My commonsense bill will help a whole range of people -- including victims of domestic violence," he said. "My bill would finally put an end to GPS stalking apps that allow abusers to secretly track their victims, and it would also give consumers more control over their very sensitive location data."


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