Unethical Stalkerware Apps Offer Parents Tools to Spy on their Children
PRAGUE, Feb. 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Avast (LSE:AVST), a global leader in digital security and privacy products, and member of the Coalition Against Stalkerware, carried out an analysis of the advertising messaging and positioning used by the top nine most used stalkerware apps detected by Avast's antivirus within its user base. While stalkerware is sometimes targeted at jealous partners for spying on their spouse and for employers to spy on their staff, the findings show that all of the apps target parents to secretly monitor their children's online behavior.
As Avast's CISO, Jaya Baloo, said, "Stalkerware can be installed on somebody's phone without their consent to stealthily monitor their communications activities, which we consider highly unethical. With this study, we took a closer look at the messaging used by these apps to understand the psychological tools they use to attract users. Unfortunately, these apps are preying on parents' fears of protecting their children. Creating a safe environment for your child starts with trust and while parental controls can be helpful, stalkerware is not the answer. Children have a fundamental right to privacy and independence as well and staying informed about your child's online activities is important and requires consent. Transparency and open conversations are key."
Avast's analysis showed that all nine of these solutions promise parents can monitor children without them knowing for "the price of a daily cup of coffee". These apps position themselves as serving a greater good and promise to help keep kids safe from online dangers by:
Avast's analysis found that messaging used by stalkerware apps to rationalize their use included:
Avast has the following tips and recommendations for parents when addressing online safety issues with their children:
More information on how to talk to your child about tracking software here.
About this study
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