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

in National, World

Global life expectancy rises, but people live sicker for longer

Fresh
21-overlay13

General health has improved worldwide, thanks to significant progress against infectious diseases and gains in fighting maternal and child illnesses.

in National

When Congress returns from vacation, budget fight looms

Fresh
congressmcconnell

The U.S. Congress will soon embark on a high-stakes budget negotiation with President Barack Obama that, if productive, could give Republicans the increased military spending they want and Democrats the increased domestic spending they seek.

in National

Christmas in August: Walmart’s holiday layaway comes early

walmart

It's the latest sign of retailers getting more aggressive about grabbing holiday shoppers early.

in Sports

Looking to future, more NCAA athletes seek own trademarks

ncaa

Some big stars in college football are getting trademarks for their names, nicknames and taglines.

in Sports

This football MVP is a real ‘dummy’

12-overlay12

Dartmouth football’s new MVP is a remote controlled Mobile Virtual Player designed to allow athletes to practice tackling with fewer injuries.