A new app gives users complete access to their partner’s smartphone, allowing them to see not only the text and Facebook messages they are sending but also track their location using GPS technology.
The mCouple app, developed by the London-based firm mSpy, can even be used to record voice conversations from a partner’s phone, as well as enabling access to photos and videos stored on the device.
And while the creators stress that users must gain consent before downloading the app onto another person’s smartphone – marketing it as a tool for couples who want to “be closer than ever before” – it also offers the possibility of checking up on a partner suspected of having an affair.
mSpy has previously marketed apps at parents looking to keep tabs on their children’s phone use as well as bosses who want to monitor their employees through their work smartphones.
Lawyers point out that any attempt to spy covertly using these apps would represent a clear invasion of privacy and would be illegal. Relationship experts have also warned against the use of the mCouple app in almost all circumstances.
“I can understand why people might want to download this,” said Susan Quilliam, a relationship coach and psychologist. “Perhaps one party has cheated and they want to give the other person complete access to all areas of their life so they know they won’t do it again. Or perhaps one person in the couple has cheated in the past, so the other person insists on them using this app.
“But both of these approaches are missing the point because they don’t address the reasons why affairs happen in the first place. It’s like taking a painkiller for a broken leg – it will stop the pain for a while but it won’t save your leg.
“It might sound old-fashioned but if you suspect your partner of having an affair, the best way to go about it is just to sit down and talk to them. If you feel you can’t do that because they might blow up in your face, then there’s more at play here than just the cheating.”
While there are some couples who will want to share absolutely everything, Quilliam suggests a certain degree of privacy is healthy even in the closest relationships.
“A balanced partnership is one in which you both have your own identities,” she said. “There is such a thing as too much detail or too much access.
“And if you download this app without their permission, you are being as dishonest with them as they are with you.”