Tracking or tapping a cell phone might sound like a pretty ideal way to catch someone in the act of cheating, or at least to get evidence of it. In fact, there’s a huge number of services of varying degrees of usefulness that claim to be able to let you do this, often with some kind of app or a few quick changes to a phone’s settings.
It all seems so easy – just pocket your spouse’s cell phone while they’re not looking, install an app or change a setting, and away you go. Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. Here’s why you’ll get in trouble, and what you should do to get evidence of infidelity instead.
Why You’ll Get into Trouble:
It is illegal to access someone’s computer (this includes smartphones) without authorization, according to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act neither private investigators, law enforcement, nor you can legally gain access to someone’s cell phone to install some kind of tracking device or app – unless of course, you happen to own the phone, or have permission to track it.
So what happens if you ignore this? If you decide to track your spouse’s phone using either major phone carrier options, find-my-phone type settings, or a spy app, you’re going to encounter some problems. For starters, you can kiss goodbye any hope of using the evidence you collect in a legal setting. This information will be inadmissible in court and essentially useless to you.
There’s also a good chance that you’ll end up alerting your spouse to your attempts to put them under surveillance in the process of installing one of these apps, making it much harder to catch them in the future.
Unfortunately, that’s not the worst of it either. Along with wasting your time collecting useless evidence, you’ll also be wading into a world of legal hurt. Illegally access your spouse’s phone, and you’ll open yourself up to prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and potential counter-suits from your spouse. Ouch.
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“If the government is doing it, why can’t I?” is a common approach people have when it comes to digital surveillance. Of course, technology is up to the job - but “borrowing” your spouse’s phone to install an app or change a setting breaks the law, and puts you and any evidence you collect at risk.