Spyware companies are helping promote domestic abuse and bullying by encouraging the use of the controversial software against partners, a new study says.
The technology is easily available for public consumption and enables people to spy on a smartphone without the owner realising it.
Researchers at the Deakin University in Victoria found spyware is encouraging acts of assault, intimidation, humiliation or other abuse that aims to harm or intimidate victims.
The study was prompted by reports from domestic violence counsellors about how spyware was being installed on the phones of women fleeing abusive partners.
“It’s becoming more of a challenge for services dealing with domestic violence,” report co-author Diarmaid Harkin told nine.com.au.
“People are presenting to domestic violence agencies, saying ‘I’ve been a victim of spyware’.”
And the promotion of spyware is encouraging the stalking of women, he added.
The study examined nine popular spyware products and their marketing, data security and privacy policies over a period of two years.
Some of the advertisements highlighted how spyware could catch cheating spouses.
Another feature of the technology is “spoof calls” – phone calls which appear as though they are coming from a friendly caller.
The study is published in Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019