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The (James) Bond Market

BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- For decades, audiences have thrilled to the exploits of Bond, James Bond, as the cinematic secret agent used an array of fantastic devices to hunt down megalomaniacs.

One may not have much need to penetrate a supervillain's volcano lair. But you don't have to be with MI-6 or the CIA to be in the spy game.

In the 1960s, only James Bond and Her Majesty's Secret Service could afford high-tech spy devices. These days, a 99-cent iPhone app may be all you need to find what you want to know.

Parents, fearing for their children's safety, look to keep tabs on their whereabouts, text messages and Web browsing. Jilted lovers flirt ever closer with anti-stalking laws as they look to confirm their jealous suspicions. Companies are routinely hacked by corporate spies for profit motive and bored kids out for "the lulz."

A survey late last year by Retrevo, a consumer electronics shopping and review site, found that more than a third of respondents (33%) admitted to checking a boyfriend's or girlfriend's email or call history on the sly. Thirty-seven percent of married couples admitted to spying on their spouse; 60% of parents with teenaged kids admitted to an intentional privacy intrusion.

As technology keeps getting both more sophisticated and cheaper, those looking to spy, or protecting themselves from prying eyes, have more options than ever.

For decades, specialty "spy shops" have brought secret agent swag to the masses, catering to professional security personnel, private investigators and a "gotta have it" subset of shoppers.

These businesses have grown in recent years, mainly online. The syndicated television show Cheaters, known for using hidden cameras to spy on unfaithful couples, has branched out into the world of online retail and has a Web store with such shopping categories as "Catch A Cheating Wife or Husband," and "Retrieve Deleted Texts."

There are, of course, legal limits to how such technology can be used. States have an abundance of harassment and wiretap laws on their books, which is why in an interview with Huffington Post, Bobby Goldstein, a co-creator of Cheaters, described his store this way: "We are very cautious about how we market our products. We're like a liquor retailer in that we want our products to be used responsibly."

We took a look at some of the items snoops and countersnoops are using.

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