Angry Birds seems like an innocent enough game, but according to Edward Snowden, the app does more than just let you enjoy a fun game. Snowden has turned over documents that state that the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ are using Angry Birds and other “leaky apps” to collect personal data.
The data is collected through the photo and location sharing and other permissions that are found on many apps. Angry Bird’s developer Rovio has already denied any involvement in this spying and says that it is unaware that this is happening. If true, this wouldn’t be the first time the NSA surprised a company in this way. The idea behind the permissions and the information sharing is to help improve the game and deliver ads that have some relevance to the location of the player.
The New York Times recently reported that both spy agencies have been swapping techniques for obtaining location from apps and address books since 2007. They must be pretty good at it by now. Right now, information supposedly being taken from these apps includes age, gender, marital status and sexual orientation. Not sure what they could do with that last bit, but probably nothing good.
Both the NSA and GCHQ are said to be able to put together profiles of targeted users from the little bits and pieces of information taken from these leaky apps. But rest assured, the NSA has released a statement denying that it spies on “everyday Americans” and says that its activities are limited to “communications that we are authorized by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes.” And we know how trustworthy they are. Don’t we?
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