Phone surveillance is the act of performing surveillance of phone conversations, location tracking and data monitoring of a phone. Before the era of mobile phones, these used to refer to the tapping of phone lines via a method called wiretapping. Wiretapping has now been replaced by software that monitors the cell phones of users.
While mobile phone surveillance has been carried out by large organisation for a long time, especially for clues of illegal activities, more and more such surveillance are now carried out by individuals for personal reasons. For example, a parent may become a "text spy" in order to monitor a child's texting activity. This brings in the moral, ethical and legal question of who owns your privacy.
According to a 1998 American Management Association report, 43% of companies actually tap phone conversations and review computer files and emails of employees. No newer data is available on the number of phone surveillance carried out currently.
Phone surveillance software
Phone surveillance in now more commonly carried out on cell phones. This is become increasingly easy with the availability of cell phone monitoring software. These software are easily purchased over the internet and can be quickly installed in any phone that the person has access to. There are many companies who develop spy software like SpectorSoft and Retina-X Studios. There has been questions as to whether these software are illegal. Most of the software makers circumvent this problem but placing a disclaimer that they do not endorse any illegal activities. The onus is then on the user of the software to ensure he or she doesn't break any law.
Stopping Phone surveillance
For now, phone surveillance seems to be difficult to detect and prevent. There are securities companies who can help clear these software from the cell phone, although it is practically impossible for everyone to do that. The law has yet to set a clear boundary on who can or who cannot do phone surveillance. A 2005 federal court ruling denies the FBI from tracking cell phone locations of people who have not committed any crimes.
- [Black Enterprise - Mar 1999]
- Phone spy software article
- [Introduction to Private Security, John S. Dempsey, page 257]