Is it Legal to Spy on Someone’s Cell Phone in 2020? 

Updated: July 23, 2020

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There are many ways to spy on someone’s cell phone, and these ways are accessible to the mass public. However, is it legal to spy on someone’s cell phone? Well, the answer depends on the situation. In this article, we will be discussing when spyware is illegal and legal on cell phones.

Spying on kids

In today’s age, kids have cell phones of their own. However, they can be vulnerable to plenty of threats, which is why it is understandable that some parents install spyware such as location trackers and social media movement interactions, but is it legal?

spying on kids phones statistics

Image source: comparitech.com

When is it legal to spy on kids?

For minor children, it is perfectly legal for parents to install parental control software on their minors’ devices, mainly when used for safety purposes. It is also permissible for parents to monitor their minor children’s social media interaction, especially when it comes to online communications or internet browsing.

Installing location tracking software or monitoring text messages or internet activity is legal for parents with minor children. The US rules that although children are entitled to their privacy,  parents of underage kids can intervene when there is an imminent threat such as suicide or self-destructive behavior. 

However, they can have adverse side effects on children, especially when tracking and monitoring are done without their consent. It can make them feel like they are not trusted.

To prevent this, it is advisable to be open to your children about tracking their location or monitoring their social media interaction. Explain to them adequately the reason why you are doing such actions to avoid misunderstanding. This way, there is transparency between the two sides.

You might also want to consider removing the spyware on your kids if they show you that they are responsible for their actions. If they do not miss curfew and open up with their interactions, there is no reason to spy on them unnecessarily.

When is it illegal to spy on kids?

It is a different story when your kids are already adults. Tracking their location and monitoring their social media interaction can be illegal, mainly when they do not consent, and they complain about it to law enforcement bodies.

According to US legislation,  parents do not have the right to intervene with their adult children’s actions because they are entitled to their privacy;  hence, installing spyware on their phones is a form of a privacy breach.

Spying on a spouse

Many spouses out there have considered installing couple trackers on their partner’s devices to check their activities, especially when they feel like there is a noticeable change in their behaviors. Meanwhile, some spouses do this intending to gather evidence for divorce proceedings as well. However, is spying on your spouse’s phone legal?

spying on spouse's phone statistics

Image source: comparitech.com

When is it legal to spy on a spouse’s cell phone?

There is only one instance where spying on a spouses’ phone is legal, and that is when you have their expressed consent to allow you to spy on them. However, such consent can be challenging to obtain, especially if the suspected spouse is truly keeping an affair a secret.

When is it illegal to spy on a spouse’s cell phone?

Conversely,  spying on a spouses’ is illegal when there is no explicit consent from them , allowing you to track their movement through phone monitoring or downloading their digital information and text messages.

If you are planning to use the information you gather from monitoring internet browsing information or tracking your spouse’s location as evidence for court proceedings, you might want to reconsider because you will be incriminating yourself.

However, if you have a good lawyer, they will advise you from the get-go to avoid using such evidence because it cannot be suitable for your case.

According to statistics, most spouses who monitor their significant other’s internet browsing information are American women, while the least likely people to do this are British men.

If you want to get reliable evidence for divorce proceedings or confirm suspicions, consider hiring a private investigator or other ways to catch them cheating instead of installing spyware on your spouses’ cell phone where you will be incriminating yourself.

Spying on an employee

Is putting a bug on someone’s phone illegal when it comes to employees? Like other cases of installing spyware on other people’s phones, the answer depends on the situation.

When is it legal to spy on an employee’s cell phone?

There can be two instances when spying on an employee’s phone is legal:

Number 1: When there is explicit consent that allows the employer to monitor the employees’ cell phones to a certain degree. Consent to monitoring cell phone activities is often discussed upon signing of a contract.

This is typical for employees who are handling sensitive information vital to the company’s operation. Providing monitoring consent allows the company to be assured that vital information is not leaked to the public or competitors.

Number 2: Monitoring an employee’s cell phone activity is legal is when the company owns the cell phone the employee used.

Putting spyware such as location tracker and text message monitoring allows the company to know where the issued cell phones are used accordingly or not.

When is it illegal to spy on an employee’s cell phone?

Employees are also entitled to their right to privacy, which is why it is illegal to spy on their cell phones, especially when there is no explicit consent coming from them.

Companies who deliberately install any types of spyware on their employee’s cell phone without their permission violates data privacy laws and may face serious criminal charges. 

Final Words

Is it illegal to access someone’s phone without permission? Absolutely. Putting spyware on other people without their consent is a breach of their privacy. However, this does not apply to minor children and employees using company cell phones.

Spying can have its fair share of both advantages and disadvantages. However, it is crucial to know the legal limits of using it on other people’s phones to avoid severe legal and criminal charges and respect other people’s privacy.

1 comments

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  • Ab!d

    Isn’t it highly illegal to monitor a resident which made the household uncomfortable and started arguments between parents and their son or daughters?
    Please feel free to reply so I might know for what reason could a landlord have to do such thing