The American regulator FTC has prohibited the developer of three 'stalking apps' from selling apps that monitor users' telephones, unless explicit permission is given for this. The regulator announced this on Tuesday.

The FTC reached a settlement with Retina-X Studios, the maker of three apps, including Mobile Spy and PhoneSheriff. It is the first time that the regulator is tackling a creator of apps with spyware.

As part of the settlement, Retina-X must remove all information it has collected through the apps. According to the developer, the apps were meant to keep an eye on employees or children. Users took out a paid subscription for this.

Information collected several times turned out not to be safe with Retina-X. Between 2017 and 2018, a hacker still seized data from various apps and thus received login details, GPS data and photos.

The FTC reports that the developer took no action after the leak came to light. Retina-X also continued to insist to customers that information would be safe with the company.

In particular, the settlement appears to be a measure for the future. Until 2018, the company sold around 15,000 subscriptions for its apps. The sale was already stopped last year.