After settlement linked to privacy & consent concerns, stalkerware apps PhoneSpector and Highster allegedly no longer available
"Stalkerware apps PhoneSpector and Highster appear shut down after NY settlement" 2 February 2024
The makers of two phone surveillance services appear to have shuttered after the owner agreed to settle state accusations of illegally promoting spyware that his companies developed.
PhoneSpector and Highster were consumer-grade phone monitoring apps that facilitated the covert surveillance of a person’s smartphone. Commonly dubbed stalkerware (or spouseware), these apps are typically planted on a person’s phone, often by a spouse or domestic partner and usually with knowledge of the device passcode. These apps are designed to stay hidden from home screens, making them difficult to find and remove, all the while continuously uploading the phone’s messages, photos and real-time location data to a dashboard viewable by the abuser.
In February 2023, Patrick Hinchy, whose consortium of New York and Florida-based tech companies developed PhoneSpector and Highster, agreed to pay $410,000 in penalties to settle accusations that Hinchy’s companies advertised and “aggressively promoted” spyware that allowed the secret phone surveillance of individuals living in New York state.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said at the time that Hinchy’s companies used blog posts that explicitly encouraged prospective customers to use the spyware to monitor their spouses’ devices without their knowledge. As part of the deal, Hinchy’s companies agreed to modify the apps to alert device owners that their phones had been monitored.
Since the settlement, both PhoneSpector and Highster have dropped offline...
...Hinchy did not respond to multiple requests for comment from TechCrunch. Michael Weinstein, who represented Hinchy as part of the settlement, deferred comment to the New York attorney general’s office...