Three months after launching the Coalition Against Stalkerware, our members met at a small
restaurant in San Francisco to talk one-on-one with newspaper journalists, online writers, and
TV reporters about the importance of fighting the digital threat that that can harm users
It was a new venue for an old conversation.
For years, the Coalition’s members have separately informed the public about stalkerware.
These types of apps rob us of privacy. They disproportionately harm women and are leveraged
in countless cases of domestic violence. Stalkerware apps can pry into text messages, reveal
online browsing history and GPS location history, unveil private photos and videos, and provide
hijacked access to mobile camera and microphone controls, all without consent.
With the help of the committed reporters who attended our dinner in February, at Absinthe
Brasserie & Bar, we believe we’re getting more help in shining a light on this shadowy threat.
At the dinner, Coalition members sat with reporters from various outlets, including The
Washington Post’s Geoffrey Fowler, CNET’s Laura Hautala, Bloomberg’s William Turton, and
The Today Show’s Jake Ward. We received smart, pointed questions that will advance the
conversations on stalkerware: How does stalkerware intersect with the public’s gradual
acceptance of digital surveillance? What technical solutions are being developed, and who is
providing guidance on how to best protect domestic abuse survivors? Are law enforcement
agencies properly equipped to understand and stop stalkerware? And, of course, if much of the
activity enabled by stalkerware is already illegal, why are the apps so easy to find and use
These are the right questions to be asking today. We are far past the point of defending
whether this threat exists. We are now working to stop the threat itself.
Part of that work has been, and remains, technical. Our cybersecurity vendors—Kaspersky,
Malwarebytes, NortonLifeLock, Avira, and G DATA—continue to improve their products to
better detect stalkerware-type apps in the wild.
But part of the fight against stalkerware includes social awareness and preparedness.
By explaining the problem to members of the press, we hope that insightful stories will come
out, which will educate even more individuals in the future. We are hopeful about this effort.
Just one year ago, we couldn’t imagine filling an entire dining room with reporters from
national and tech-focused media, where there was not an empty seat available, and in which
the event lasted long, the questions kept coming, and the depth of understanding was
We are all working as a team to help users everywhere from these dangerous capabilities. It is
together, not alone, that we must fight a threat that isolates.
We thank every Coalition member who attended, along with every member of the media who
paid close attention to what we had to say, including William Turton of Bloomberg, Laura
Hautala of CNET, Shannon Vavra of Cyberscoop, Jake Ward of NBC, Michael Kan of PC Mag,
Seth Rosenblatt of The Parallax, Shaun Nichols of The Register, Tara Seals of ThreatPost, Paul
Wagenseil of Tom’s Guide, and Geoffrey Fowler of The Washington Post.