I was on a plane recently and browsing through the SkyMall catalog in the seat pocket when I stumbled across some products that made me extremely uncomfortable. BrickHouse Security makes products that are supposed to be for security purposes. However, some of them seem to go above and beyond what is necessary for security. They seem more like products that are to be used for spying, and the only thing that I could think was how dangerous these things would be in the hands of an abusive person, and how they could be used against a domestic violence victim in awful ways.
The Cell Phone Spy Text Reader allows you to “read deleted text messages & private data from any SIM card.” From the site (emphasis mine):
This is the only SIM Card reader in the world that can actually see the deleted messages. Have you ever wondered what a suspicious family member is doing or an employer who needs to see what someone is up to on a company phone? This device lets you review all deleted text messages, numbers dialed, contacts, and other activity from any cell phone with a SIM Card.
Have you ever “wondered what a suspicious family member is doing?” Oh, you mean “Have you ever wanted to spy on your partner?” If you can’t trust your partner, chances are you shouldn’t be with them anyway. But beyond that, I could see this being a dangerous tool in the hands of an abuser. Being able to see deleted texts and numbers dialed could be extremely dangerous for someone, because it’s so easy for abusers to distort information and use it against their partners. Or, if a victim is trying to plan their escape, the consequences of the abuser finding out about that could be fatal.
The Stealth iBot PC Monitor “covertly monitors passwords, chatting, photos, websites & more” and allows someone to “record everything a person does on a computer.” Great. So a battered person, trying to find resources and information about how to leave and where to go could be caught. Another thing that an abuser could also easily use to twist the information received around to punish the victim.
The Executrack Mobile GPS Tracker makes me VERY uncomfortable. The product allows you to “see exactly where that cellphone (and the person carrying it) is [at any given time].” Okay, maybe if it was your child’s phone and you wanted to be able to keep tabs on them. But an abuser installing this on their victim’s cell phone could be lethal. Many abusers will check car mileage and require a by-the-minute timeline of where their partner is, was, and is going. This takes that a step further. And if a victim flees and tries to hide from their batterer? This could give their location away and put them in great danger. Granted, we tell people that leave abusers to get new cell phones, and to keep their phone off so that it can’t be tracked, but many people don’t think of that. The consequences of an abuser being able to track their partner down could be devastating.
The Stealth Phone Tap Recorder allows you to record phone calls. And then there are the plethora of hidden cameras that you can use to spy on someone. I can’t really see a purpose for these items outside of private investigation and police use. Putting these products in the hands of abusive people could be so, so dangerous. Abusers already control their victims in so many ways, and these tools could make them even MORE controlling and would give them even more information to twist and use against their victims.
I know that because of my work, I tend to view many things within that framework, but it’s an important angle to consider. And I just don’t see the reason for making things like this widely available to the general public. I can’t see anything good coming from the ability to spy on people.