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Google pulls plug on text-spying app

Worried your boyfriend or girlfriend is cheating? There was an app for that.

Worried your boyfriend or girlfriend is cheating? There was an app for that.

A 2008 Harvard grad, Zak Tanjeloff, created a controversial Android application that can secretly forward text messages to another number, but Google late last week pulled it for violation of the Android content policy.

Tanjeloff said the app was on solid legal and moral ground because the terms of service called it a “novelty” that wouldn’t be installed without permission.

But Tanjeloff admitted the product’s intent was to be used covertly.

“It’s illegal to bug someone but not illegal to make a bug,” Tanjeloff said. “We’re basically making a tool to keep people honest.”

After installing the Secret SMS Replicator on someone’s handset, the app sends a copy of every incoming and outgoing text message to a third phone.

“I had a friend at Harvard who was convinced his girlfriend had some sort of service on his phone,” Tanjeloff said. “She knew so many secrets about him and would confront him about it. That idea always stuck with me and I thought wouldn’t it be cool if there was something that actually could do that.”

But after that product was removed from the market Tanjeloff’s team pulled an all-nighter to repurpose the app for parents who want to openly track their child’s texts.

 
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