NSA targets Angry Birds, other apps to collect user data

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By Brandy Shaul Comment

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While mobile games may seem like innocent time wasters, new documents have been released detailing the use of such games by the National Security Agency to track user information, such as user location, gender, age and other personal information.

Reports have been revealed by the New York Times, the Guardian and Pro Publica, which were leaked by Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor. The documents claim the NSA and its British equivalent have gathered data from multiple smartphone apps, including games like Angry Birds and other apps including Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn and Twitter. Google Maps was also particularly interesting to the agencies, according to the reports, because of the amount of geo-location data tied to the app.

According to the LA Times, Rovio has released a statement regarding Angry Birds’ involvement in the reports, saying it had no involvement with either agency, and that it wasn’t aware of the use of any “intelligence programs” which may have been used to access user data.

In response to the growing concern over lack of mobile privacy, Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde is in the process of creating a private mobile messaging app called heml.is, which will allow “only you and your friend” to read messages sent between the two.

Meanwhile, mobile commerce company MEF has called for improved privacy policies for applications, giving users better knowledge and peace of mind for how their information will be used before they ever download an app.

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