The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Privacy Law: Spying technology now widely available, but is it legal?

The internet has famously made having an affair easier, with social networking sites providing ample opportunity to meet old or new love interests, and providing a number of ways to get in contact with them.

However, the availability of new spy technology that allows a person to spy on their partner means evidence of an affair is now relatively easy to gather. There is a growing 'infidelity industry' in the UK that consists of selling spy technology, conducting surveillance, and setting up 'honeytraps'.

People can now buy 'spyphone' software that logs details of all text and calls, and allows a person to listen in to a call being made on the phone. They can also buy keyloggers for computers that log websites visited,web-chats, and emails sent.

In addition, voice-activated recorders are available that can be placed in cars, handbags, bedrooms etc. According to Adrian Mudd, founder of Spy Equipment UK, one of the most popular pieces of technology used to spy on cheating partners is a tracking device that can be installed in a car and tracked remotely via a PC or mobile.

These devices are not cheap, and as people start to gather evidence, they often want even more proof from surveillance carried out by specialist firms. Some people can spend thousands in an effort to catch their partner cheating.

But what about the legal implications? Placing spy software on joint computers or phones is questionable and something of a legal grey area. However, tapping into someone's phone is a breach of their privacy, as can be seen from the recent News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

In addition, the emotional impact of spying on a partner can be huge - some people become obsessed with finding out what their partner is up to or finding proof where perhaps none exists. On the other hand, if suspicions are confirmed, partners may read or see something they wish they hadn't.

The internet can not only start affairs but expose them too. A number of high profile celebrities have had their cheating ways exposed on Twitter, from Ryan Giggs being exposed as the gagging order footballer who had an affair with ex-Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas, to US Congressman Anthony Weiner who was exposed for sending semi-naked pictures of himself to women on Twitter.

Related Links:

Read more on the story (the Times)
Learn more about phone hacking (FindLaw)
Find local privacy law specialist solicitors (FindLaw)