Are the Angry Birds spying on you? NSA using 'leaky apps' to gather data on users
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|
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?
- As they approach their third wedding anniversary, new parents Kate and William show they are still very much in love on their tour Down Under
- Thrill-seekers dangle from Ukraine's highest structures
- NYPD Twitter outreach backfires as users spread images of police brutality
- Dad asks Toronto public library to ban Dr Seuss book Hop On Pop because it 'encourages violence'
- Michelangelo's David could COLLAPSE with fractures appearing in statue's ankles
- Two non-gypsy men reveal why they are marrying Romany sisters
- Pregnant woman drives kids into ocean in Florida
- 12-year-old’s family says bullying at school caused her suicide
- New York principal Annie Schmutz Seifullah fired for sex with security guard and parent during school hours
- Revealed : The top secret Texas base where CIA trained Cuban exiles for Bay of Pigs and store AK-47s meant for Afghan rebels
- Then and now: The dishevelled Oxford undergraduate who became George Clooney's stunning fiancee
- Deb’s Mommy blog: Getting ready for our new baby
- WATCH: Rare video of 1919 ‘Black Sox’ World Series
- Ohio kidnapping survivors say they're thriving
- EXCLUSIVE: Donald Sterling's wife Shelly is a racist who 'runs his affairs like a brothel' and the couple's 'split' is a sham to save him from losing the LA Clippers claims former friend
- Girl-on-girl fight video shows 16-year-old hit on head with SHOVEL
- Low five: The moment a diver 'shakes hands' with a 52ft humpback whale the size of a double-decker bus in Hawaiian waters
- Baltimore salon worker Truc Nguyen caught in crossfire and shot dead in front of husband
- Lee-Ann Dixon loses seven stone after her son, 11, said she was 'too fat'
- Porsha Williams charged with assault after brawl with Kenya Moore
- Gypsum dad allegedly killed by teen son identified
- Drunk tractor driver decapitates three people in head-on crash
- Father of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver who went missing apologizes for not protecting him
- Tragedy at the top of the world: Terrifying moment huge avalanche swept down Everest killing 16 in mountain's worst-ever tragedy
- World's youngest snowboarder Aspen Haight learned to ski before she could walk
- Is this the worst Twitter reply of all time? US Airways social media fail as airline tweets XXX-rated picture to customers complaining their flight was late
- Bumper Crop food truck
- All crimes by neighborhood from 2009 to 2013
- Shhh... don't flush the toilet! Babies are put to bed in bathrooms and closets as space-short New York parents struggle to accommodate growing families
- Being snooty DOES help shop assistants sell more in fancy stores
- Abu Hamza believed 'physical jihad training was obligatory', says American aide who checked out potential training camp in Oregon
- Injured piglet ends up in a wheelchair at a farm animal sanctuary
- Maryland police department plans to LIVE-tweet prostitution sting
- Husband shot his wife to death then attempted to kill both of his children before taking his own life
- Women with unshaven underarms protest conventional standards of beauty
- DEA announces Pueblo County meth trafficking ring bust
- Grace Hall of Eats Amazing blog turns son's lunchboxes into works of art
- Colorado astronaut goes on spacewalk outside Space Station
- Lorena Bobbitt speaks out 21 years after she sliced off her husband's penis
- African-Americans say Sterling’s racist comments aren’t surprising
- Women are unexpected driving force behind thriving marijuana industry
- Is this the worst round of Family Feud EVER? Contestant needing only 18 to win $20,000 fails to score a single point
- Breakdancing 'Buddhist monks' bust a move: Four 'monks' star in viral video, advertising event honouring deceased Beastie Boy Adam 'MCA' Yauch
- 'Help Zakk reach for the stars': Family of boy, 5, who suffered 'internal decapitation' that left him paralyzed call for votes to help win minivan so he can visit space center
- Edmond Aviv ordered by judge to hold 'I'm a bully!' sign
- Tribal elder's advice to the giggling Cambridges as Kate recycles chic scarlet suit for trip to earthquake-hit Christchurch
- NASA astronauts claim the 'only thing preventing a city-killer asteroid is luck'
- This is why you should stop using Internet Explorer right now
- Policeman's best friend: Heartwarming moment a K-9 and his handler pause to honour dogs who served in force