Survey: nearly half think it may be legal to install spyware on a family member's devices


Originally published at:


i’m confused. by what measure is 18.8% “nearly half?”


I am disappointed in math.


It is only legal to install spyware on a phone if you are called google, apple or facebook.


I noticed that too, so at first I thought maybe that was in reference to the question about installing spyware on your child’s phone. But that number was comfortably over half, so I have no idea. Maybe they decided “I don’t know” was the same as “yes”?


Partner - hell no.
Adult child - hell no.
Non adult child - absolutely.


I would think the law would allow you do to whatever you want with a minor child’s phone as long as you’re the custodial parent, but IANAL. Regardless, I think there are better ways to do that than installing shady spyware or questionable origin. I am also not a parent, so this is a problem I’ve not had to deal with.


It isn’t. But „18.8% said yes, and 28.72% were uncertain.” That’s 45%.

Not going to check the author, but I bet money it was Cory.


Would you place a camera in their bedroom and read their diary, too?


So the title of the thread says “family member” but the article makes it clear they’re only talking about sexual partners. I don’t think they even distinguish between boy/girlfriend and spouses, which do have significant legal distinctions.

That makes all the difference. Of course it’s illegal to install spyware on an adult’s phone without their knowledge and consent, and even more so if you have no legal ties with each other.


Misleading headline. It should say:

Survey: nearly half do not think it is illegal to install spyware on a family member’s devices


18.28% think it is legal to install spyware without permission.
another 28.72 think it might be, but aren’t sure.

That’s 47% who don’t know that it is illegal. I know, that’s not what the title says.

Apparently obscure clauses buried in paragraphs of legalese count as permission.

OK, so what is the definiton of non-adult child? I grew up in a country that considered you to be an adult at 18, and 10 miles away from one that considered you to be an adult at 16. I personally consider the US age of majority infantilising.


The major factor that seems unaccounted for is device ownership.

The law generally takes a dim view of bugging systems that aren’t yours; but protection is substantially patchier, when present at all, for the privacy interests of people using systems they aren’t the owner of.

This doesn’t change whether or not it’s in atrociously bad taste; but someone believing that it’s legal to bug an unrelated party’s phone and someone believing that it’s legal to bug all the phones on their ‘family plan’ are two very different levels of plausibility.


I have a camera in my toddler’s room, but it is certainly a temporary safety measure.


Article: "18% of people think this"
Post: "so it’s hard to know how far to trust its conclusions."

Way to fight the good fight against the dilution of credible media, Cory. :angry:

But of course, ‘81% of people think it may be illegal…’ doesn’t sound nearly as clickbaity, despite being also possible, if you just-as-bogusly count the ‘don’t knows’ in the other direction.


Well, unless you’re their employer or phone carrier or the NSA or…


Cos nothing builds trust between parent and his child like sophisticated surveillance methods…



This is a BLOG, not an official news site; and it is known that Cory is often hyperbolic in his writing.


There’s a big difference between a parent transparently doing this on a phone they own or employer transparently doing it on a device they own, versus doing it to some unrelated poor schmuck without their knowledge.


From the post:

American women, particularly those in the 18-24 age group, were most likely to sneak a peak at the other person’s phone on a date, although the overwhelming majority across all demographics said they wouldn’t do this.

This kind of summary is piffle. “Most likely to” could mean anything from a fraction of a percentage to just under “overwhelming majority”.