An Australian woman discovered that her ex-boyfriend of six months was stalking and tracking her through an app that was connected to her car. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the man had helped her purchase a Land Rover, which gave him access to the car’s VIN, or vehicle identification number. This allowed him to set up an app that would track her movements and give him the ability to control the car from a remote location.
The woman, who was not identified, found out that her ex had been stalking her for months after she lost her phone. She used her computer to try and locate the device and realized that her information was being sent to his email, including maps of where she worked and where she parked. “I was filled with a mix of emotions — fear, anger, shame, disbelief, and sheer terror of what he would do next,” she said in court. Police also found a notebook in the man’s home containing information about the victim, including places she frequented as well as courses she had planned to take. The woman also told the court that she had woken up one night to find the man standing by her bed, in silence, until he said, “You’re lucky it’s just me and not a robber or a bad person to do you harm.”
The Washington Post points out that while the app was not identified, it sounds like Land Rover’s InControl app, which allows owners to start their car remotely, track its whereabouts, and control the temperature. As technology has advanced over the years, cyberstalking has increased, with more abusers manipulating smart devices, such as security apps, to track their victims.
Surveillance software programs, which are typically marketed as a way for employers to monitor their workers or parents to control their kids’ online activities, is being used more as “stalkerware.” Abusers keep track of their victims locations, read their messages, and see their internet activity using this type of technology. The FTC recently barred three of these apps, stating that hackers were able to access people’s usernames, passwords, and other info. According to CBS News, the company sold more than 15,000 subscriptions to the three apps before the company halted sales.
The man is due in court next month where his lawyer will make a submission for his sentence. “What he did is despicable and I am still trying to come to terms with the scope of violation and trauma I have experienced,” the victim said.