Monitoring software has overcome the stigma attached to it for years to a large extent. It has now penetrated homes where concerned parents are utilizing it to keep their kids safe from digital threats, and workplaces where employers are heavily relying on these tools to keep their employees in line and their business interests out of danger. Despite the growing acceptance of monitoring software, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding it, especially when it comes to its legal status. Although we really want to pull you out of the confusion by giving you a simple and straight answer, we’re afraid that’s not possible. However, what we can and are about to do is to give you a clear idea about whether the use of monitoring software is legal or not. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Monitoring Software is Not Illegal
First thing first, monitoring software is not illegal. Remember, we are just talking about the tool here. Let’s take the example of a gun. Most states in the US and most countries around the globe have declared it legal to purchase guns, provided a proper license is acquired for them. They may have a potential to endanger the lives of people, but that hasn’t impacted their legal status. The same way, monitoring software is a legal product. Neither the seller of such a product, nor the buyer face the risk of litigation.
Legal Status Depends on Usage
Okay this is where things start to get a little confusing. While we just told you that monitoring software is not illegal, you can still find yourself in deep trouble because of it. That is because you might be using it in a way or for a purpose that the law of your country deems illegal. Now you must be wondering what constitutes an illegal use of monitoring software. To put it in the simplest of terms:
- You can install a monitoring software only on a device, or devices owned by you;
- You must inform or seek consent of the person before installing and using the monitoring software on the device in their use;
- LEAs can deploy monitoring software without informing or seeking content of the target. However, they require a warrant from court for that.
If you’re a parent and you’re planning on monitoring your kid’s digital activities, you must inform them. Likewise, if you’re an employer who’s planning on taking help from monitoring software to discourage time wasting and crooked practices at work, then you must disclose the software’s presence on the work machines to your employees. If you don’t do that, they may find themselves with a very good excuse to sue you over privacy invasion.
The Illegal Spying Scenarios
Remember, under no circumstances is it legal to snoop on your partner’s communications and digital activities. Even if you suspect them of cheating on you, you will still be committing a crime by sneaking a monitoring software into their computer or smartphone. The same goes for installing a monitoring software on a stranger’s digital device. Just because you believe that they might be planning something dangerous against you, you cannot assume that it’s perfectly fine to monitor their device. If caught, you will be the one staring at an uncertain fate in the courtroom.