7 behind mobile phone spying app to stand trial in Hanoi

By Ha An, Thanh Nien News

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The office of Viet Hong Company in Hanoi. Photo credit: VTC The office of Viet Hong Company in Hanoi. Photo credit: VTC

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Hanoi prosecutors said they will take seven people of a technology firm to court for developing and selling a mobile application that allowed users to spy on more than 14,000 phones from 2013 to 2014.
Viet Hong Technology Company’s Deputy Director Nguyen Viet Hung and six employees will stand trial on charges of “illegally using information gained from computer, internet and telecommunication networks.”
The crime is punishable by a jail term of up seven years and an additional fine of up to VND200 million (US$9,300).
According to the case file, Hung, 41, hired Le Thanh Lam to write the spying app called “Ptracker”.
Lam, who was among the defendants, was then recruited by the company in September 2013 for further development of the snooping software.
Other employees, Nguyen Van Tuan, Le Sy Phan, Nguyen Ngoc Kieu, Tran Minh Ngoc and Nguyen Thi Nga, were accused of marketing the software, which had been sold to 14,140 users until the case was busted last May.
Investigators found Hung and the six employees earned around VND900 million from the app.
For VND400,000 ($19) per month, Viet Hong's customers could secretly install the Ptracker app on anyone's smartphone to listen to calls, read text messages, access contacts and even track the owner's movements. 
The stolen information was archived on Viet Hong’s servers and could be accessed by signing up for a paid account.
Police said most recorded calls pertained to personal affairs, not national security.
The director of the Hanoi-based firm, Dang Hong Dang, was not arrested as he neither engaged in the software business nor received profits from it, investigators found.
Vietnam prohibits the creation and installation of software for the purpose of collecting personal information or taking control of digital devices.

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