U.S. prosecutors on Monday indicted a Pakistani man for marketing a StealthGenie application that could be used to secretly spy on calls, texts, and other activity on smartphones.
Charges leveled against 31-year-old Hammad Akbar of Lahore, Pakistan, were billed by the U.S. Department of Justice as the first-ever criminal case centered on the advertisement and sale of an app tailored to spy on smartphones.
“Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it’s a crime,” assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell of the Justice Department criminal division said in a release. “Apps like StealthGenie are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victim’s personal life—all without the victim’s knowledge.”
Caldwell added that the Justice Department is “cracking down” on those intent on using technology designed for “brazen invasions” of people’s privacy.
Akbar is chief executive of InvoCode, a company that advertises and sells StealthGenie online, according to the indictment. The application can intercept calls, pictures, texts or other communications between smartphones, and was marketed as being untraceable, prosecutors said.
Akbar was arrested in Los Angeles on Saturday and charged in the indictment with charges involving conspiracy and selling “a known interception device,” according to prosecutors.
A federal judge issued a restraining order on Friday authori