News

‘Angry Birds’ app might be telling your secrets

‘Angry Birds’ app might be telling your secrets

MORE LIKE SPY BIRDS: Apps like Angry Birds can "leak" information about the users. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. and British intelligence agencies have plotted ways to gather data from Angry Birds and other smartphone apps that leak users’ personal information onto global networks, the New York Times reported on Monday.

It was citing previously undisclosed intelligence documents made available by fugitive American spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The Times said the U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, had tried to exploit increasing volumes of personal data that spill onto networks from new generations of mobile phone technology.

Among these new intelligence tools were “leaky” apps on smartphones that could disclose users’ locations, age, gender and other personal information.

The U.S. and British agencies were working together on ways to collect and store data from smartphone apps by 2007, the newspaper reported.

The agencies have traded methods for collecting location data from a user of Google Maps and for gathering address books, buddy lists, phone logs and geographic data embedded in photos when a user posts to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services, the Times said.

Snowden, who is living in asylum in Russian, faces espionage charges in the United States after disclosing the NSA’s massive telephone and Internet surveillance programs last year.

His revelations and the resulting firestorm of criticism from politicians and privacy rights activists prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to announce intelligence-gather reforms on Jan. 17, including a ban on eavesdropping on the leaders of close allies and limits on the collection of telephone data.

The Times report said the scale of the data collection from smartphones was not clear but the documents showed that the two national agencies routinely obtained information from certain apps, including some of the earliest ones introduced to mobile phones.

The documents did not say how many users were affected or whether they included Americans.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said U.S. surveillance agencies were only interested in collecting data on people considered a threat to the United States.

“To the extent data is collected by the NSA through whatever means, we are not interested in the communications of people who are not valid foreign intelligence targets, and we are not after the information of ordinary Americans,” Carney told a regular White House news conference.

Any such surveillance was focused on “valid foreign intelligence targets … I mean terrorists, proliferators, other bad actors (who) use the same communications tools that others use,” he said.

(Reporting by Jim Loney; Editing by David Storey, Bernard Orr)

Recent Headlines

2 days ago in Sports

The weekend sports schedule

penscaps16120076416963

Here’s a look at some of the sporting events taking place this weekend.

2 days ago in Sports

The best sports shots this week

goffdraft870850982276

A look at some of the biggest plays and best moments in sports this week.

2 days ago in National

Making headlines this week

kansasweatherAP

A look back at some of the biggest newsmakers this week and the headlines you may have missed.

2 days ago in Sports

Reigning NL batting champ banned 80 games for doping

marlinsdeeREUTERS

Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins was suspended 80 games without pay after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, Major League Baseball said.

2 days ago in National

Teen pregnancies hit historic low

sexed296416402183

The annual survey shows the continuation of a downward trend that began in 2006 and continued through 2014, the latest year of complete data, when nearly 250,000 babies were born to girls and women aged 15 to 19.