The cyber company Kaspersky published data from a survey conducted among 21,000 respondents in 21 countries, from which alarming findings emerge about the patterns of digital behavior between spouses. While 70 of the respondents answered that they do not believe that following one of their spouses secretly is a legitimate action, the remaining 30 percent admitted that it is legitimate in their eyes to follow their spouses secretly. However, they do not do so in practice, even though they believe it is acceptable – in the appropriate circumstances.
Among those who justify covert surveillance, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believe it is legitimate when a spouse is suspected of being unfaithful, and 63 percent believe it is acceptable if surveillance contributes to safety. In addition, half of them believe that covert surveillance is legitimate – if there is a suspicion that the surveillance is involved in illegal activity.
The data also shows that 15 percent of the couple were asked by their partner to install a tracking app on their personal phone. 34 of them reported experiencing some form of violent treatment from the spouse. The survey shows that the highest support for covert surveillance is in the Asia-Pacific region (24 percent), while the percentage of those who think so in Europe is ten percent, and in American countries – eight percent.
The survey was conducted in collaboration with a number of organizations working to combat violence between spouses and the Coalition to Combat Surveillance Technologies, in which Kaspersky is also a partner. The findings show that digital surveillance is another way in which people use violence or exercise control over their spouses. As mentioned, given that such tracking tools are highly available and allow a tracker to access a large and diverse amount of personal and private data – device location, browser history, text messages or social media chats – it is not surprising that it may serve as another tool in abusive relationships.
Kaspersky further noted that over the past ten months, such surveillance tools have been directed at tens of thousands of people who have sometimes even fallen victim to extortion and threats for fear of spreading personal and even intimate details. One of the recommendations of Kaspersky experts for people who suspect or know that surveillance software is being run against them is not to rush and remove them from the device as this may be detected by the tracker, and the consequences can be even more severe. The recommendation is to contact law enforcement agencies and organizations dealing with the issue to get professional advice in a discreet manner.