The private spying game--Fourth Amendment won't save you from this

Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 10:52 AM

Are you one of the millions who are deeply disturbed by what the government is doing with electronic surveillance?  Well, I assume that eventually common sense and the Fourth Amendment will eventually catch up to President Bush and the NSA (though certainly not without a hell of a fight).

But the Fourth Amendment has no application to private spying.  And you'd be amazed at what these little spies can do.

While poking around on something else I came across this site, which promises to let you "Start secretly recording everything that happens on your computer in minutes with SpyRecon!."

The bad news is that the fourth amendment only protects you from government searches and seizures.  If you want to stop a private person from doing something like this, boy have you got a tough row to hoe.  Only the tort laws, some version of invasion of privacy, is likely to save you, and it is notoriously hard to prove one of those.  And that's if you ever even find out that you're being spied on.

Okay, you might be thinking, so my family can buy this stuff and monitor me, but I don't care because (select one or more):

a. They wouldn't do that to me

b. Even if they did, I'm not doing anything wrong

c. Even if I'm doing something wrong, no one gets to use my computer.

Well, what about your computer at work?  Ever use a computer at the library, a hotel, an internet cafe, or some other public area where it would be possible to identify you (password, library card number, etc.)?

The web site above advertises the fun value of its product this way:

Find Out If Your Spouse Is Cheating On You

See Your Kids Chat Conversations

Record All Email Passwords and Keystrokes

Keep Tabs on Your Employees 24/7

Obtain That "hard to get" Information
Do you really know what your family members do online? SpyRecon allows you to easily monitor a computer from any location. With SpyRecon you can do anything from secretly reading someone's private instant messenger conversations to finding out their email passwords.

Know Everything That Happens
SpyRecon records everything that happens on the computer that you wish to monitor. This software records all keystrokes, instant messenger conversations, passwords, and actually takes pictures of exactly what is happening on the computer screen. Best of all this software is capable of running in an invisible mode where it is possible to monitor all activities on your computer with complete secrecy.

Monitor From Any Computer At Any Time
SpyRecon is the only software that automatically sends all recorded activities, keystrokes, login details, chat conversations, and screen shots to the email address of your choice. This means you can continually monitor a computer without even touching it!!!

And, on its FAQ page, it specifically says:

Is there a corporate version of SpyRecon?

We are currently in the process of developing a corporate version of SpyRecon, that will allow companies to easily and seamlessly monitor and track employee activities, along with several other never before seen features. If you would like to be notified when the corporate version is released, please contact us at

Does SpyRecon also log visited websites?

Yes, all versions of SpyRecon are capable of recording every web site the person being monitored has been to.

Is SpyRecon legal?

Yes, SpyRecon is 100% legal. You are able to install whatever programs you want on your computer providing you comply with the license agreement for that program. SpyRecon is designed to enhance Internet security and safety by giving you the tools you need to find out everything that happens on your computer.

Not scared yet?  Think about the possibility that more concise versions of this software may get slipped on your computer from some online source you visit.  Like the NSA apparently was doing with its nefarious "cookie" it dropped on the computer of visitors to its internet site until someone spilled the beans and NSA "corrected its mistake."

Congress can pass any number of inane laws that don't do anything but complicate life, but anticipate a problem like this one and take action to prevent it, or at least give you a leg to stand on in court?