Is spying on the mobile telephone of your partner legal?
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What the law says about spying on your partner:

Let us first review the European laws relating to spying on a spouse or partner. In fact, all personal information obtained through fraud or violence may be severely punished by law.

However, in reality the law is more subtle than that. In fact, let us imagine that your boyfriend or girlfriend allows you the access codes to their mobile telephone, their email account or their social media account. In this case, the fact of browsing through your partner’s accounts cannot be described as an invasion of privacy under European law. In this case it is considered that your partner has consciously taken the decision to allow their partner to access their personal information. This is of course the same for married couples as for non-married couples, whether they live together or not.

As you have surely understood, spying on your partner without their knowledge and without them voluntarily granting you access to their personal accounts is forbidden by the law which protects the private life of everyone. Being married gives you no right to infringe on the privacy of your partner.

As we will look at next, this of course also concerns spyware to a certain extent.


Can spyware be used to monitor the mobile telephone of your boyfriend or girlfriend?

Let us now launch directly into the subject by examining the spyware that is freely available on the internet. We should remind you here that this type of software could be described as surveillance applications that enable you to remotely recover and consult all the information recorded on a targeted telephone on which the software has been installed.

As it is, this software can be used on your boyfriend or girlfriend’s telephone with one condition; that they have given you their prior agreement to do so. In fact, if you have alerted your partner to the presence of this spyware on their mobile telephone and they authorise you to access their personal data then this should not be a problem legally speaking. It should also be noted there that the telephone on which the spyware is installed, and the telephone line it is linked to, should be registered in your name and not that of your spouse.

In the situation whereby you wish to monitor or spy on your partner without their knowledge you should be aware that they can prosecute if they discover this action.


What is at risk if you spy on the telephone of your partner using surveillance software?

As we have just examined, the only way to monitor the telephone of your spouse or partner while respecting the law relating to the invasion of privacy consists of obtaining the authorisation of the person concerned before installing the spyware. However, when you access the download page of the spyware and proceed with its installation no proof of this agreement or the proposed use of this software is requested. Therefore many worried or suspicious spouses and partners anxious that their partner or spouse is guilty of adultery use these applications and spyware to monitor the activities of the other person without their knowledge. Of course this represents a great legal risk as it is an act that constitutes an invasion of privacy.   

The person spied upon can therefore, if they discover they are being monitored without their knowledge, file a formal complaint and take this matter to court. The punishment meted out is generally in proportion to the damages and trouble caused by the illegal surveillance. Of course, this can be in terms of financial damages if the banking codes or operations were recovered in this manner and used for abusive ends or this can also mean in terms of psychological damages. The severity and gravity of the latter are directly determined by the judge responsible who decides on the amount of the fine imposed. In the more serious cases, a prison sentence, generally suspended, or a restraining measure can also be imposed.

All the spyware suppliers will inform you of the illegality of such a procedure and can, under no circumstances, be held responsible for how you use their software. It is therefore entirely up to you if you decide to take such a risk and assume the consequences in the case whereby your actions are discovered and your partner takes legal action against you.

Still on the subject of the law relating to surveillance software, certain people who find themselves trapped in a floundering marriage wonder if they can use this spyware to monitor the telephone of their husband or wife to obtain proof of infidelity to use in the case of a divorce, either at that time or later on. This is of course not legally possible as the information obtained outside the legal use of such software, and any proof thereby obtained, could not be used in a divorce court. On the contrary, this type of procedure could in fact seriously prejudice your case when it came to a divorce settlement.

It is therefore important that you think carefully before launching into such a use and spying on your partner without their knowledge using this type of software.


Why is this monitoring software legal despite the illegality of spying on your partner?

After reading that you may be asking yourself the following question, if spying on a spouse or partner is forbidden by law then what can spyware that is freely available on the market be legally used for?

In reality, as we quickly looked at earlier, it is not the surveillance software that is illegal but rather their use which is subject to certain laws and regulations. In fact, apart from spying on your boyfriend or girlfriend, this type of software can prove very useful in certain cases that are authorised by the law. Here are some examples:

Firstly, spyware is particularly appreciated by parents that wish to monitor the online activities of their young children. In fact, due to the numerous dangers represented by the internet and the increasing numbers of young children and adolescents that possess smartphones it is understandable that parents worry about their children making undesirable acquaintances online or being subjected to cyber bullying. It is clear that this type of surveillance software is incredibly effective with numerous useful functions for anxious parents. For example, they enable the geo-localisation of the telephone at any time, the consultation of SMS and MMS messages, telephone calls, and other instant messaging applications thereby detecting dangerous situations and encounters. This spyware can also be used as a type of parental control as parents can directly block or allow access to certain websites or web pages, even applications, from their remote dashboard. However, although this usage of spyware for surveillance is legal, it is still a spying activity. In fact, as an individual’s private life, even for young children, is protected by the law the parents are required to inform their children of the presence of this software on their telephone and both the telephone and the associated telephone number must be registered to the parent concerned.

Another case where spyware can prove very useful relates to business and work. Many employers decide to install this type of surveillance software on the business telephones supplied to their employees. This particularly enables the employer to consult the agenda and meeting details of their employees, follow their movements, and block or unblock certain activities on the telephone that are not relevant to business use. Of course, this type of use is again subject to certain conditions. An employee using a work telephone with such an application installed must be informed in writing prior to its use and the telephone and associated number must be owned by the employer company. It is therefore not possible for an employer to monitor the private telephones and devices of their employees.

Finally, and this is a rare situation, certain people may accept the installation of this type of spyware on their telephone thereby enabling access to all the information therein to their partner or spouse. This may be with the objective of reassuring the other person of their fidelity or loyalty or to guarantee their security through the permanent geo-localisation feature of this software.


Why this spyware is tempting to a jealous husband or wife:

Even though just about everyone is aware of the fact that spying on your spouse is illegal and can be punished by law the majority of people that download this surveillance software use it to spy on their husband or wife without their knowledge. It is true that these applications offer a great number of advantages to learn everything about a person’s movements and interactions. Here for example is a list of functions generally available with this type of software and their use when it comes to a partner’s suspected infidelity.

  • Geo-localisation: This enables you to know the exact location of your partner thereby indicating if they are where they say they are or if they have made any visits to places or people you are unaware of.
  • SMS and MMS: You can remotely access all the messages sent and received by your partner together with the dates and times as well as the details of the messages senders and receivers.
  • Telephone calls and recording them: Of course, the call history of the telephone will also be accessible remotely with this type of spy software and certain, more recent versions of these applications also enable you to systematically record these calls and listen to them at a later time.
  • Email accounts and social networks: As SMS messages and telephone calls are not the only types of discreet communication available you will also be able to access all the accounts registered on the telephone including the email inboxes of your partner, their social network accounts and instant messenger accounts. No type of communication conducted through the telephone will be hidden from you.
  • Internet browsing history: Even if your partner takes the time to delete their internet browser history because they wish to hide things from you nothing will escape you as you can still remotely access the details of the websites and web pages visited together with information on the length of time spent online and on each page.
  • Photos and videos: Using this type of software you will be able to access photographs and videos taken using the mobile telephone as well as those sent by a third party and received by the telephone user.
  • Audio recording: If you wish to find out the location of your partner and what they are doing, apart from the geo-localisation feature that we mentioned earlier, certain highly advanced software applications enable you to operate the telephone microphone or camera so that you can see or hear in real time what is happening around them.

Another undeniable advantage of this type of monitoring software for those who wish to monitor the movements and actions of their wife or husband is the hidden mode that is available. In fact, once installed, this spyware can be completely undetectable to the user. No icon will appear on the telephone menu if this is activated during the initial setup. Your partner or spouse can therefore be totally unaware of the presence of this software unless you inform them and they cannot uninstall the application either. You will in fact be the only person who can manage and use this software remotely from your online dashboard.


How can people that wish to discreetly monitor their partner use this spyware?

Through reading the preceding part of this article you have learnt that the spyware freely available on the market can easily be used by those who wish to spy on the activities of their spouse or partner despite the fact that this is actually illegal. But as we shall now explain, this use as discreet surveillance software of the partner or spouse is not actually as simple to do as one might imagine.

Firstly, you should be aware that to use spyware to discreetly monitor the activities of your partner you will first need to physically possess the telephone concerned as well as the password for unlocking the screen for a short while. The installation of this software cannot be completed remotely, it must be downloaded, installed and configured directly on the targeted telephone. In certain cases or to use all the functions of the chosen spyware it may be necessary to proceed with a Jailbreak or rooting of the device and if so this will require a little time. It is therefore important that you are not disturbed during this procedure. Of course the more careful users will ensure that they click on the box that activates the hidden mode of the spyware thereby making its use totally invisible and they will also delete the recent browser history, particularly the software download page.

The rest is of course a question of discretion and self discipline. You should know that by being able to access all the data on your partner’s telephone you may discover certain information that may have normally passed you by. In the case whereby you learn something disagreeable such as infidelity or lies then you need to control your anger and desire to talk to your partner or you risk your illegal act being uncovered with the possibility of prosecution as we explained above.

It is therefore up to you to gauge the risk you are prepared to run simply to monitor the movements of your partner and to fully assume the consequences in the case whereby the situation turns out badly because you have fully warned of the risks and consequences of such an act.