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SMS Spying App Pulled from Android Market


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A controversial application, which allows users to forward copies of all incoming SMS messages to a different phone, has been removed from the Android Marketplace for violating the service's content policy.

The app, called the "Secret SMS Replicator," was created by DLP Mobile, a software developer cattering for various platforms, including iOS, Android and BlackBerry OS.

In a blog post, the company describes the new application as "a tremendously useful and potentially insidious tool" and makes no effort to hide its intended purpose.

"One potential use of this app might be the following: Grab your boyfriend's phone while he is in the shower.

"Download our app onto his Android phone and the app runs secretly, unable to be detected, BCC'ing you with all his incoming texts.

"Find out salacious details and he'll have no idea you're on to him. Perfect. Perfectly cruel," the company says.

Cruel and potentially highly illegal, because the Electronic Communications Privacy Act makes it a criminal offence to intercept electronic communications without a warrant.

The only case where such an application would have a legal use, is when parents install it on their underaged children's mobile phones.

The company didn't develop a version for iPhones, because it wouldn't have passed Apple's App Store review process.

However, the Android Marketplace has more lax submission rules, where applications are automatically accepted and removed later if found to breach the service's terms.

A Google spokesperson told the New York Times that "Secret SMS Replicator" was suspended on Wednesday evening for violating the Android Market Content Policy.

Many antivirus vendors have already released antivirus solutions for Android, because unlike iOS or BlackBerry, the platform is more open and exposed to abuse.

While only applications pre-approved by Apple can run on iOS, unless the device is jailbroken, Android allows users to execute self-signed code.

There are already Android trojans in circulation and free spyware applications, that can be a lot more invasive than "Secret SMS Replicator," are currently in development.

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