Home | Technology | Are the Angry Birds spying on you? NSA using 'leaky apps' to gather data on users

Are the Angry Birds spying on you? NSA using 'leaky apps' to gather data on users

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
By Lena-Sullivan 2 minutes ago

Read More: No tags for this article

Claims made in documents provided by Edward Snowden claim popular apps such as Angry Birds (pictured) are being used to siphon up user's data
Claims made in documents provided by Edward Snowden claim popular apps such as Angry Birds (pictured) are being used to siphon up user's data

DOCUMENTS published by The Guardian and New York Times show some of the world's most popular mapping, social network and gaming apps feed America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ with a "golden nugget" of users' personal data.

The reports suggest that US and British intelligence easily get regular access to data generated by apps such as the popular Angry Birds game or Google Maps. The huge amounts of personal data can include details such as a user's location, sexual orientation and even political affiliation.

Intelligence agencies' interest in mobile phones and the networks they run on has been documented in several of Snowden's leaks before, but the focus on apps shows how everyday, harmless-looking pieces of software can be used as tools of espionage.

Angry Birds, the addictive birds-versus-pigs game, which has been downloaded more than 1.7 billion times worldwide, was one of the most interesting and surprising examples.

The Times and ProPublica revealed a 2012 British intelligence report laid out how to extract Angry Bird users' information from phones running the Android operating system.

Another document, a 14-page NSA slide show published to the web, listed a host of other mobile apps, including those made by Facebook, photo sharing site Flickr, and the film-oriented Flixster.

It wasn't clear precisely what information can be extracted from which apps, but one of the slides titled "Golden Nugget!" which set out the agency's "perfect scenario" gave the example of a user who uploaded a photo using a social media app. From this one upload, it said the agency could possibly obtain a phone number, friends list, location and "a host of other social working data as well as location".

As well as these apps, the NBC is also reporting that Britains GCHQ also has the ability to tap into any internet cable and spy on what people are doing on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter - all without these companies knowing or consenting to it.

The British spy agency also shares this information with their American NSA friends, with a previous Snowden document describing a joint program called MUSCULAR where the two agencies shared their entire data flow that had been taken from Yahoo and Google.

"We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links," Google said in a statement. "We do not provide any government, including the U.K. government, with access to our systems. These allegations underscore the urgent need for reform of government surveillance practices."

What do you think about these intelligence agencies and their spying actions?



Colorado News

Get the latest Colorado news, sports, weather, entertainment, business & political news and more from Colorado Newsday.
  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Rate this article


Photo Galleries

PHOTOS: Plastic Surgery Celebrity Awkward family photos 
UPDATED: Faces of Meth PHOTOS: Celebrities all a-Twitter

More galleries ››

  1. Spoiled’ teen takes parents to court (1.00)

  2. Terms of Service (0)

  3. Colorado Newsday Privacy Policy (0)

  4. Pregnant wife of marine 'killed by her lover' was delighted to be having a baby after previous miscarriage as it emerges that 'murderer' had searched online about how to dispose of a body (0)

  5. Woman arrested for attacking legislator's wife 'after becoming obsessed with their family and breaking into their home' (0)

  6. Inside the world's most expensive apartment: Penthouse in Monaco's new Odeon Tower complete with water slide, private chauffeur and caterer will set back potential owner £240MILLION (0)

  7. Robin Williams was addicted to 'tooth-rotting sentimentality', says Barry Norman: Film critic sparks anger among fans with his 'honest tribute' (0)

  8. Kim Kardashian denied access to Vanity Fair party (0)

  9. Russian troops threaten to shoot Ukrainian soldiers in tense stand-off (0)

  10. Drunk tractor driver decapitates three people in head-on crash (0)

  11. Boxer vows to fight on – after 51st defeat in row (0)

  12. Forbes rich list names world’s youngest billionaires (0)

  13. Pregnant woman drives kids into ocean in Florida (0)

  14. Oprah Winfrey tells Lindsay Lohan to ‘cut the bull****’ in trailer for new reality show Lindsay (0)

  15. Denver Man Michael McGinley threatened to kill wife in phone call at DA’s office (0)

  16. Couple stole little girl's iPod in Aurora (0)

  17. Former director of Breckenridge Film Festival Dawna Foxx given 5 years for embezzling $300K (0)

  18. Ohio diocese discourages ALS ice bucket challenge (0)

  19. California's vanishing lakes: Before-and-after photos reveal the shocking shriveling effect of state's most devastating drought in decades (0)

  20. LA's newest top billed celebrity! World's largest rubber DUCK sails into tinsel town to headline Tall Ships Festival (0)

  21. Man named Stoner facing marijuana charges (0)

  22. Nicolas Cage stars as a warrior in first 'Outcast' trailer (0)

  23. Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon reportedly separated, will divorce (0)

  24. How thieves tried (and failed) to steal a Banksy artwork by stealing it from the INSIDE of the house it was painted on (0)

  25. 'Horrified' Dating Naked contestant sues VH1 after network failed to blur out her crotch before episode aired (0)

  26. GCHQ challenge tests your ability to stop a cyber terror attack in the UK (0)

  27. Bill Murray Day planned for 2014 Toronto International Film Festival (0)

  28. Carson Daly, fiancée Siri Pinter welcome baby girl (0)

  29. Transgender teen kills himself just months after he came out as male  (0)

  30. 'Think refriger-nation': Old Farmer's Almanac predicts 'SUPER-cold' winter for the East Coast...but bone-dry West can expect continued drought through 2015 (0)

  31. NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly has 'no evidence' of cancer in his body three months after receiving chemotherapy (0)

  32. An idea that's a dog's dinner! Company creates vending machine that feeds stray animals in return for people recycling bottles (0)

  33. The grubby multi-million dollar trade in hostages fueling the rise of ISIS: How European allies undermine the US and negotiate with terrorists (0)

  34. Mickey Rourke vital to 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,' says Frank Miller (0)

  35. Miley Cyrus confirms attendance to MTV VMAs 2014 (0)

  36. Tiny metal worker, 5-foot-3, claims self-defense after firing shotgun 10 times and killing 'massive bully' three times his weight (0)

  37. 'What if I had been a better father?': Parent of Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik asks agonising question in new book (0)

  38. Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch to star in 'Richard III' (0)

  39. Big Mac under attack: Russia cracks down on McDonald's after shuttering four eateries in Moscow citing 'numerous' food safety complaints   (0)

  40. Three senior Hamas leaders killed in Israeli air strike (0)

  41. Maine North Pond Hermit Christopher Knight breaks his silence (0)

  42. 'UFO over Nebraska' as lightning darts through skies during supercell storm (0)

  43. ISIS still expanding thanks to hostage trade, capturing territory and seizing oil (0)

  44. Julianne Hough returning to 'Dancing With The Stars' as judge (0)

  45. Revealed, why James Foley was an ISIS 'whipping boy': Terrorist captors discovered pictures of his U.S. Air Force officer brother on his laptop and made him suffer mock executions including being 'crucified against a wall' (0)

  46. 'Breaking Bad' scavenger hunt to be hosted by Aaron Paul (0)

  47. Bali suitcase murder victim Sheila von Weise-Mack paid $800k in 2011 lawsuit settlement (0)

  48. Police seek mystery pair in selfies after California burglary (0)

  49. Steven Tyler releases song from 'Sin City' soundtrack (0)

  50. Madonna's 'USED underwear' up for sale at memorabilia auction (0)