Mobile Phone Surveillance: Apps, Methods And Defense

In this article you will find everything about mobile phone monitoring: How to monitor or remotely control a mobile phone, common monitoring apps in comparison, information about the legal situation in Germany and how to protect yourself from mobile phone monitoring by news services, hackers or private snoopers.
Compare 1. monitoring apps

We have compared several providers with which a mobile phone can be monitored. In the table you will find the price, some key data and the link to the provider.

When Is It Allowed To Monitor A Mobile Phone?

In some European countries, the surveillance (and thus also the location of a mobile phone) of a mobile phone is only permitted if it is your own mobile phone. A foreign mobile phone may only be monitored if a user’s declaration of consent is available. Monitoring a mobile phone without the user’s consent is a violation of personal rights.

Even if it is tempting to find out with whom your partner writes or makes phone calls, the surveillance of your mobile phone without the permission of the mobile phone owner is a crime for which you can be sentenced to (sometimes very high) fines or imprisonment.

Police And Emergency Services Monitoring

Under certain conditions, government agencies such as police or emergency services may also locate or monitor a mobile phone without the owner’s consent, but only if this contributes to the prevention of a crime or to rescue from a life-threatening situation and only in exceptional cases. Even the police require a judicial authorisation in most cases.

Mobile Phone Surveillance With Consent

However, it is permitted to monitor a mobile phone if the user gives his consent. This may be the case, for example, if an employee receives a work phone that he is only allowed to use for very specific purposes. If the contract stipulates that the employer may monitor use, mobile phone surveillance is legitimate in this case.

However, the user must be informed exactly which data is stored and evaluated. For example, it is not permitted to record and listen to the contents of conversations if the contract merely states that the times and duration of conversations are recorded.

Supervision Of Own Underage Children

It is also allowed for parents to monitor the mobile phone of their minor child. In this case, parents do not need their child’s declaration of consent, as they are not yet of age and parents are allowed to make decisions in the child’s interest.

Which Data Can Be Monitored?

With simple mobile phones, the following data or communication channels can be monitored, for example:

  • Location (determined via the GSM network)
  • call history
  • phone calls
  • SMS and MMS

Smartphones or tablets can also be spied on (e.g. using a monitoring app):

  • Location (determined via GPS)
  • Exiting a predefined area (geo-fencing)
  • Messenger apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, Snapchat, iMessage or Viber
  • Apps from social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Google+
  • emails
  • browser history
  • Personal information such as images, music, videos, e-books and documents
  • Calendar, address book and notes
  • Installed Apps
  • keyboard protocol
  • System information, such as battery status, connected WLAN networks, memory usage, IMEI or version of the operating system

Reasons For Mobile Phone Surveillance

There are many reasons why smartphones or mobile phones are monitored. Below we have listed some of them:

Emergency Safety

By monitoring your mobile phone you can possibly achieve a higher level of safety for your children or relatives, as people who have suffered an accident can be found more quickly by locating them.

Theft Protection For Your Own Mobile Phone

Installing a surveillance app on your own phone allows you to remotely control it in the event of theft or loss and not only increase the likelihood of recovering it, but also prevent others from viewing data stored on the phone.

Control Of Employees

Companies also monitor their employees’ phones to learn more about them, such as how they communicate with customers, what their surfing behavior is on the business phone and whether employees are in the places they should be during working hours.

Data Theft

Mobile phone surveillance can also have criminal reasons, such as the misuse of passwords, credit card or bank data or identity theft.

Intelligence Services

Intelligence services also monitor mobile phones, smartphones and other mobile devices on a massive scale. An example of this is the NSA spree affair, during which Chancellor Merkel’s mobile phone was also intercepted.
5 How can you protect yourself from mobile phone surveillance?

You can never be completely sure whether your mobile phone is being tapped or not. But there are some measures that significantly reduce the risk of being spied on by intelligence services, hackers or private snoopers.

So you should buy your mobile phone or smartphone only from authorized retailers and also download apps only from trusted sources, such as the play store on Android or iTunes on the iPhone or iPad. Also, you should not lend the device to anyone who could install spyware there. Another advantage is to install an antivirus or security app such as Lookout Mobile Security, AVAST Mobile Security & Antivirus or CM Security, which can detect monitoring apps and other malware quite reliably and regularly scan the list of apps for unknown applications.

event_note July 3, 2018

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