London: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor the phones and computers of their partners secretly have reached "epidemic proportions," it has been revealed.
Software packages costing less than 50 pounds are being openly marketed as tools for covertly tracking a cheating wife or girlfriend and policeare ill-equipped to tackle it, domestic violence campaigners have warned, the Independent reported.
Helplines and women's refuge charities have reported a dramatic rise in the use of spyware apps to eavesdrop on the victims of domestic violence via their mobiles and other electronic devices, enabling abusers clandestinely to read texts, record calls and view or listen in on victims in real time without their knowledge.
Research also showed that abusive spouses also increasingly use their children to gain access to an estranged or former partner, using Christmas or birthday presents such as phones, computers and toys pre-loaded with spyware to infiltrate a target's home.
Campaigners are concerned that while the use of spyware to stalk or eavesdrop on a victim is illegal in Britain, the law contains multiple loopholes and cases could be difficult to prove.
While most companies marketing spyware are based abroad, the eavesdropping technology was also available in Britain through specialist retailers and also the website of the high-street electronics retailer Maplin.