Knack magazine published a study in which they revealed that thousands of people in Belgium have stalkerware on their cell phones, often without their knowledge, possibly installed by their partner or ex-partner. At Detective agency Bayo, we frequently receive inquiries about the legality of reading a partner’s messages through these apps. In this article, we address this question.
What is Stalkerware?
Stalkerware is not a new phenomenon. Back in 2020, we wrote an article about the use of stalkerware for tracking partners. Google subsequently adjusted its global policy to clarify which uses of such apps were approved by them. This change came after Google had previously banned advertising for similar apps.
On February 7, 2022, we participated in a radio interview for “De Wereld van Sofie” on Radio 1, discussing the impact of stalkerware on our work as private investigators. We often receive inquiries about the possibility of reading a partner’s messages or installing apps on their cell phone. We cannot assist clients with these requests, as such apps do exist, but their use is not allowed by law in Belgium. Our role is to advise and assist clients within the legal framework regarding the possibilities, means, and methods of our services.
Stalkerware vs. Private investigator
While stalkerware is not legally permitted, hiring a private investigator is. The profession of a private detective is regulated by the Private Detective Act of 1991. Stalkerware could be considered unfair competition, as the services we offer as private detectives are legally permitted.
Le Vif magazine also published an article about stalkerware on May 18, 2023. This article did not mention that the use of stalkerware is not allowed by law without explicit consent, further emphasizing the common oversight of this aspect. Therefore, it is advisable to always consult a professional such as Detective Bayo or a counselor.
We would also like to highlight the dangers of using stalkerware and GPS tracking systems. When these tools are no longer used to determine adultery in a relationship but to stalk an ex-partner, this behavior falls under the term “stalking“. Victims can file a complaint against this behavior, and Detective Bayo is ready to assist in establishing a case based on our findings.
Do not hesitate to contact Detective Bayo, we are here to provide guidance on the available options.