PhoneSpector And Highster Surveillance Apps Shut Down After Settlement


The makers of two phone surveillance services, PhoneSpector and Highster, appear to have shuttered following a settlement agreement over illegal promotion of spyware. These consumer-grade phone monitoring apps, commonly known as stalkerware, allowed covert surveillance of a person’s smartphone. The apps were designed to stay hidden from home screens, making them difficult to detect and remove, while continuously uploading the phone’s messages, photos, and real-time location data to a dashboard viewable by the abuser.

Key Takeaway

PhoneSpector and Highster, two stalkerware apps, have shut down following a settlement over illegal promotion of spyware for secret phone surveillance. This development reflects the ongoing regulatory efforts to address the misuse of surveillance apps.

Settlement and Shutdown

In February 2023, Patrick Hinchy, the owner of the companies that developed PhoneSpector and Highster, agreed to pay $410,000 in penalties to settle accusations of aggressively promoting spyware for secret phone surveillance. The settlement required Hinchy’s companies to modify the apps to alert device owners that their phones had been monitored. Since the settlement, both PhoneSpector and Highster have dropped offline. PhoneSpector’s website now redirects to an Indonesian lottery website, and Highster’s website has also stopped loading.

Unresponsive Entities

Efforts to reach out to the phone numbers associated with PhoneSpector and Highster customer service were unsuccessful, as the numbers had been disconnected. Additionally, the office space registered to Hinchy’s companies is currently occupied by a construction firm. Despite Hinchy’s registered companies remaining active, they have not filed paperwork with the states for several years and are designated “past due” for updates.

Regulatory Action

PhoneSpector and Highster are the latest stalkerware apps to have fallen offline following regulatory action. In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission brought charges against phone monitoring app maker Retina-X, leading to its shutdown. A year later, the FTC banned stalkerware maker SpyFone and its chief executive from the surveillance industry. A subsequent investigation found the return of the chief executive with a new stalkerware app called SpyTrac, which also shut down soon after.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *