In late January, the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued an order halting the advertising and sale of “StealthGenie”, a “spyware” application (“app”) that could be installed on mobile phones.
StealthGenie logged and recorded information such as incoming and outgoing calls, emails and text messages. The information could then be forwarded to an individual seeking to monitor the information. The software could be loaded on a phone without the user’s knowledge and even allowed the person attempting to monitor the ability to intercept calls in real time.
Apparently StealthGenie is not the only “spyware” app available on the market today. According to a recent article in Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly, “use of such products is growing, despite the StealthGenie prosecution.”
For clients facing a divorce, the desire to obtain information about the activities of their estranged spouse can be strong. Especially in cases involving adultery or suspected adultery, there is often a high temptation to want to gather information that would seemingly help prove the case or find that “smoking gun”.
People seeking to gather this information should be careful. Just because an app is sold on the open market does not necessarily mean that its method of gathering information is legal. Installing and using such software could potentially get you into trouble both in your divorce case and criminally.
Here is good guideline to follow – Electronic communications that are sent to you by a party (such as emails or text messages) can be kept and stored by you and can be used to help your case. But, if gathering such electronic communications requires you to install spyware, guess passwords or somehow break into a site or computer that is not yours, it is probably not a good idea to do it.
Instead, if you suspect that information that could be helpful to your case resides in a computer that you don’t own or is in an email that you deleted, your attorney can request the information through discovery. If you think that information once resided on a computer that has since be deleted, there are experts who specialize in retrieving that information. Follow the legal process and you can save yourself some potential future trouble.