WASHINGTON, October 24, 2019 — The Cybersecurity Coalition and the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) have partnered to encourage companies to increase their flagging of stalkerware and for the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to bring more cases against the individuals and companies that create and market the illegal technology.
Stalkerware refers to technology that is used to intercept and monitor communications of a spouse, ex-spouse, or acquaintance without that unwitting victim’s knowledge. Stalkerware can be installed on hardware or software, allowing abusers to spy on victims by collecting GPS location information, voice recordings, text messages, and other information. In recent years, one of the most common uses of stalkerware is in cases of domestic abuse.
The cybersecurity industry has worked with NNEDV for over 10 years to properly identify and flag stalkerware. The Cybersecurity Coalition and NNEDV are currently calling on a wide range of technology companies to find new ways to ensure users know when they are being monitored via these technologies, often designed and promoted for pernicious use.
This week, the Federal Trade Commission took action against three stalkerware companies for surreptitious tracking of consumer behavior. In the past, the Department of Justice has indicted creators and marketers of stalkerware used to conduct illegal wiretapping, illegally disclose intercepted communications, and obtain unauthorized access to victim computers. However, these actions are only the beginning as stalkerware continues to spread. The Coalition and NNEDV will jointly advocate for DOJ and FTC to demonstrate that action against stalkerware is a priority and to ensure that they have the proper authority to bring stalkerware cases.
“The Cybersecurity Coalition neither supports nor tolerates this abusive practice,” said Ari Schwartz, managing director of cybersecurity services and policy at Venable and coordinator of the Cybersecurity Coalition. “We are committed to helping victims take back control of their devices and their lives by advocating for greater punishment of the marketers of stalkerware and the abusers who use it.”
“The development of products whose features allow for abusers and stalkers to easily use them as a tool for spying creates significant safety and privacy risks for survivors.”, said Erica Olsen, Director of the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “We urge companies to continue to remove these products and for state and federal authorities to hold accountable companies that design and market products to facilitate these crimes.”
Fellow members of the Cybersecurity Coalition include AT&T, Cisco, Citrix, CybelAngel, Cybereason, Intel, Karamba Security, McAfee, Mozilla, Netscout, Palo Alto Networks, Rapid7, Red Hat, Schneider Electric, Symantec, and Tenable.
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The mission of the Cybersecurity Coalition is to bring together leading companies to help policymakers develop consensus-driven policy solutions that promote a vibrant and robust cybersecurity ecosystem, support the development and adoption of cybersecurity innovations, and encourage organizations of all sizes to take steps to improve their cybersecurity. For more information, visit www.cybersecuritycoalition.org.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is a social change organization dedicated to creating a social, political, and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists. NNEDV was founded more than 25 years ago to be the leading voice for survivors of domestic violence and their allies. Today, NNEDV provides training and assistance to the statewide and territorial coalitions against domestic violence. It also furthers public awareness of domestic violence and changes beliefs that condone intimate partner violence. For more information, visit www.nnedv.org.