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Trust Issues? Survey Shows 30% of People See No Problem in Secretly Stalking Partner

Digital privacy company Kaspersky has recently released a report revealing 30% of those surveyed shared that they see no problem in secretly monitoring their partner.

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The global survey had more than 21,000 participants from 21 countries, which sought to get their opinions on privacy and digital stalking in intimate relationships.

Due to the rise of stalkerware in the past couple of years, more so during the pandemic, there's also been growing concern about how invasive it can be.

The issue surrounding stalkerware has been a grey area, according to a report in The New York Times. While there are legitimate uses for surveillance apps, like parental control software, which helps parents protect their children from online predators, it's different when it's being used to spy on a romantic partner.

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While yes, your partner has the right to know where you're going on Thursday night or what your email address is, but being in a relationship doesn't automatically give anyone the right to have control of their partner's personal data. As such, stalkerware has mostly been reported to be used in abusive relationships, wherein one partner would want to track his/her partner's every move to gain control. Not only is this highly invasive, but it is also very dangerous especially if the relationship in question is abusive.

Before Google took down ads for stalkerware, such apps were being marketed to women as a way for them to catch their cheating husbands. Other problems that can be seen here - aside from being sexist, the ads might also attract malicious individuals who will be repurposing the spouseware to stalk people other than their spouse, like an ex-partner or someone they're obsessed with.

In fact, Kaspersky's Digital Stalking in Relationships report revealed that 15% of respondents worldwide have been required by their partner to install a monitoring app. Unfortunately, 34% of those have also experienced abuse by their romantic partner. The report was conducted online by Sapio Research last September.

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It's basically every stalker's dream as these apps enable them to freely access the victim's personal data going as far as being able to view their texts and chat messages, photos, call logs, calendar etc. Other disturbing features of such apps are the capability to record phone calls and video calls, use the camera and log in to the victim's accounts - even bank accounts - undetected.

According to researchers, these highly invasive apps are even more pervasive when used on Android phones. This is due to the open nature of Google's software, which makes it easier for programs to have deeper access to someone's data as well as install mobile apps. But this doesn't mean that iPhone users are completely safe from stalkerware. While Apple has always prided itself on its security features, it's best to always keep one's iPhone updated to the latest software for better protection.

According to the Kaspersky report, out of those who think that secret surveillance is justified, almost two thirds (64%) would do it if they have doubts that their partner is being unfaithful; if it was related to their safety (63%); or if they believed their partner was involved in criminal activity (50%).

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It's also worth noting that respondents in the Asia Pacific region were more in favour of using stalkerware at 24%, while in Europe it's 10% and the Americas at 8%, showing that fewer people find this acceptable in western countries.

Kaspersky has partnered with several domestic violence experts from member organisations of the Coalition Against Stalkerware: Wesnet, Australia's national umbrella organisation for domestic violence services, Centre Hubertine Auclert, a women's rights organisation (France), the National Network to End Domestic Violence (US), Refuge, a victim support charity in the UK and WWP EN, the European umbrella association for perpetrator programs.

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"I really urge anyone who is experiencing stalking — either in real life or through stalkerware — and who feels it would be unsafe or dangerous to confront their abuser, to reach out to a domestic abuse organization to get advice and support," says Karen Bentley, CEO, Wesnet.

“The National Network to End Domestic Violence is delighted Kaspersky is taking steps forward to increase understanding about privacy and the use of stalkerware in intimate partner relationships. More data is needed in this area and we look forward to seeing this information put to use to improve safety and privacy protections for survivors,” comments Erica Olsen, Director of Safety Net, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV).

Kaspersky's statistics revealed almost 28,000 of its users were affected by stalkerware in the first 10 months of 2021, which is definitely an alarming statistic that should put everybody on guard.

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