This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
A $410,000 fine has been announced for a man and the 16 companies he ran that produced and sold spyware and stalker ware to customers.
It is the Electronic Frontier Foundation that reported as a result of work by prosecutors in New York State, Patrick Hinchy and his companies also must notify victims.
"This sends a clear message to app developers who make their money by surreptitiously installing software to spy on the devices of others: the State of New York will not tolerate your actions," the report said.
EFF said it long has championed the fight against stalker ware and its director of cybersecurity, Eva Galperin, helped found the Coalition Against Stalkerware several years back.
During this time, the organization has "urged legislators and rule-makers to take the threat stalkerware poses to the safety and privacy of its victims just as seriously as other forms of malware."
The surveillance software is installed on phones – without the users' knowledge or consent, the organization reported.
"The apps track victims’ locations and allow abusers to read their text messages, monitor phone calls, see photos, videos, and web browsing, and much more. It’s being used all over the world to intimidate, harass, and harm victims, and is a favorite tool for stalkers and abusive spouses or ex-partners," the EFF explained.
New York prosecutors, in announcing the result, confirmed, "These apps and products put New Yorkers at risk of stalking and domestic abuse, and were aggressively promoted by Patrick Hinchy through 16 different companies. Today’s agreement will block these companies from allowing New Yorkers to be monitored without their awareness, and will continue our ongoing fight to protect New Yorkers’ rights, safety, and privacy."
The EFF said the awareness of the problem has been increasing.
"In a groundbreaking ruling in September 2021, the Federal Trade Commission banned the Android app company Support King and its CEO Scott Zuckerman, developers of SpyFone, from the surveillance business. Almost a year ago, Maryland’s legislature unanimously passed a bill requiring law enforcement agencies to learn to recognize the common tactics of electronic surveillance and the laws around such activities. The double penalty imposed in New York is a welcome way not only to disincentivize would-be stalker ware developers but also to start to redress some of the damages caused by this shady industry."