Is It Illegal to Track Someone’s Phone? Let’s Find Out!

Melissa E. Henry

We’ve heard the questions over and over again. Are tracking devices illegal? What about taking someone’s phone without consent and installing monitoring software? When it comes to privacy, the law is very clear. It’s illegal to use monitoring software — except in cases when it’s perfectly legal.

Confused? We don’t blame you. The law can be complex, so we’re here to help you understand everything. The too-long-didn’t-read version? If you’ve got kids, and they’re underage and living at home, you’re not violating phone privacy laws by monitoring their activity. Got a bit of time? Then let’s go a bit more in-depth.

Table Of Contents

Situations Where The Law Permits Tracking Someone’s Phone

  • When you have consent to track them. If you explicitly ask the person you want to monitor if it’s OK to track them, and assuming they give you their explicit consent, then you likely haven’t broken any phone privacy laws. Theoretically, this means that you can use a monitoring app to keep tabs on your partner or friend, as long as they’re completely aware that you’re monitoring them, and they have given you permission to monitor them.
  • If you’re monitoring an employee. Is it illegal to track someone’s phone if they’re in an employer-employee relationship? Not necessarily. Many employers monitor their employees’ Internet activity, online chats, and even phone activity without violating any sort of phone privacy laws. How do they get away with it? By having employees sign agreements to confirm that they give the company permission to monitor them. It becomes especially easy when an employee is using company property.
  • If you’re protecting your own child. Is it illegal to track someone without their knowledge? If the person you want to monitor is your own child, they’re under 18, and they’re living under your roof, you can use monitoring software without informing them. This is the case in many jurisdictions. But because laws are different everywhere, it’s important to check your local laws before monitoring your own child.
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Why You Might Want to Track Your Child’s Phone

Is it illegal to go through someone’s phone without permission? That’s a question we hear parents asking all the time. And while we’ve said it above, it’s worth repeating. If you want to monitor your child, the law is likely very much on your side. And there are lots of reasons why you might want to monitor their phone:

  • Cyberbullying. Kids can be cruel, and cyberbullying can affect their mental health. It’s always a good idea to be informed if they’re a victim.
  • Inappropriate texting. We’re talking about photos that could contain nudity, or even sexually explicit messages.
  • Sex trafficking. It’s scary to think about, but sex trafficking has become every parent’s worst nightmare. Knowing who they’re chatting with and what they’re talking about can help put your mind at ease.

If you don’t meet any of the above conditions, then tracking someone’s phone without consent could very well be a violation of several privacy laws. One such law is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which makes it a federal crime to intentionally intercept electronic communications without consent.

Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you’re part of the communications in question, the law states that it is not unlawful to intercept that communication. Because the law can be complex and everyone’s situation is different, we recommend you read it yourself.

How to Find Out If You’re Being Tracked

We know what you’re thinking. Can someone track my phone without permission? And if they are, can I find out about it? That depends on what software they’re using to track you. If they’re using a very primitive app, there’s likely an app on your home screen. If you discover one you don’t recognize, someone might be monitoring you. What’s more, some phone tracking software can considerably slow down your device. If you notice a sudden change in how fast your phone functions (perhaps scrolling is no longer buttery-smooth), someone could be tracking you.

How to Monitor Your Kids’ Phone Without Them Knowing

If you want to use tracking software on your own child and stay within your legal rights, eyeZy is a great place to start. The highly advanced software works in hidden mode, so they won’t know you’re using it. What’s more, it’s designed to keep their phone operating at peak speed (they won’t notice any slowdown with eyeZy installed).

Once installed on their phone, eyeZy gives you the power to monitor their phone activity. That includes seeing their social media chats on Instagram, Snapchat, Messenger, and more. It means having access to their text messages and emails as well. And being able to see their location at any given time and getting alerted when they come and go from certain areas. It even includes alerts when they type a particular word or phrase. Basically, if it’s happening on their phone, eyeZy lets you see it.

Thinking about getting eyeZy? Remember, you should be good to go as long as you’re not violating the ECPA or your local privacy laws. Like with all software related to privacy, double-check your local laws. And stay safe out there.

Melissa has been working in education for more than 10 years. As a vocational education teacher in the finance and marketing career clusters, she is experienced in explaining complicated things in simple words. On top of equipping her students with the needed skills, she also shares her knowledge online, delivering marketing-related educational articles and how-to guides for various digital tools.

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