Seeking legit, mutually-agreeable Android monitoring app for partners
April 28, 2020 9:41 AM   Subscribe

As a part of our recovering and rebuilding trust after my infidelity, my partner has asked me to install an app on my Android phone which allows my partner to monitor my calls, texts, and app usage.

Our therapist agrees this can be a helpful tool during the early stages of our recovery. I am doing my best to own my mistakes and agree, but initial research has only found shady "secretly catch a cheater" apps that look more like malware trying to take advantage of a distraught buyer.

I'm reaching out to the hivemind for your recommendations, but respectfully ask that judgement be reserved. Thank you.
posted by phredgreen to Technology (6 answers total)
You might have more luck exploring apps that are set up for parents to monitor their kid's usage -- possibly you'll find some slightly less shady stuff there. I usually like Common Sense Media's recommendations. Wirecutter also has some ideas.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:29 AM on April 28, 2020 [4 favorites]

I would suggest looking for an app or service designed for parents, to allow them to monitor the phone-based behavior of their teenagers. This should have the type of functionality you are looking for: the ability to monitor location, to review phone logs, text messages, social network usage, etc as well as ability to lock out certain apps that are considered destructive (eg tinder, etc.).

As you pointed out, apps & services for monitoring spouses are mostly designed for secretive spying, and that's nt what you want. I believe looking at the market for above-board-monitoring of teenagers would get you closer.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 10:29 AM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

When considering the type of monitoring app to install, I suggest that you consult with a local attorney (MeFi Wiki) about the potential impact of this type of voluntary surveillance on otherwise protected confidentiality with doctors, therapists, hotlines, lawyers, etc, that you may communicate with on your phone. Attorneys with experience in this area of the law and the technology may include family law attorneys (MeFi Wiki) who have experience representing survivors of domestic abuse (MeFi Wiki), because of how typical this kind of monitoring behavior can be in those types of cases, and you can discuss options to protect your privacy, such as burner phones (i.e. and why any type of surveillance is unlikely to reassure an untrusting partner), and they may also have referrals to therapists who will understand both how technology works and that your right of privacy is fundamental to many aspects of your health and well-being.
posted by katra at 11:29 AM on April 28, 2020 [5 favorites]

Additionally, you will need to consider whether use of such an app will violate wiretapping laws. If you speak to someone who's calling from a state that requires that both parties consent to monitoring, anyone monitoring you could incur criminal liability.
posted by praemunire at 1:05 PM on April 28, 2020 [4 favorites]

It's unlikely that wiretapping is at stake-- such apps usually only share phone metadata, which numbers/contacts called and when and how long. How trusting the apps are may vary as well-- does the metadata just report that I called a contact called "Mom" for 20 minutes, or does it give "Mom"'s number as well, in case
posted by Sunburnt at 2:14 PM on April 28, 2020

mSpy appears to have a monthly plan (rather than a year-long commitment; coupon offers), and an Android demo you can try online.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:41 PM on April 28, 2020

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