GCHQ and NSA accused of using Angry Birds and Google Maps to nab user data

Surveillance agencies have reportedly tried to collect personal information leaked from smartphone and tablet apps.

Angry Birds in space

US and British surveillance agencies have been accused of using Angry Birds and other popular smartphone apps to gather users' personal information.

That's according to the latest round of revelations from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, which have been made public by the New York Times and Guardian newspaper.

It's claimed the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ have colluded on how to take advantage of "leaky apps" that inadvertently spill details about the age, sex and location of their users.

These include mapping, gaming and social networking apps, although the amount of data that's been collected in this way is not yet clear, nor is the number of users likely to be affected.

The documents suggest GCHQ and the NSA have "traded methods" for collecting location data from Google Maps users, along with address book and phone log data when users post pictures to mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The report claims the two surveillance agencies have been working on ways to collect and store these types of data since 2007.

Its work to-date has reportedly focused on collecting data from older apps, but newer ones including Angry Birds are being targeted too, the latest tranche of documents from Snowden suggest.

In particular, they set out how to obtain information from Angry Birds running on Android-based devices.

The latest revelations come hot on the heels of President Obama's pledge earlier this month to curb the surveillance activities of the NSA.

In a statement to the New York Times, the NSA insisted it does not profile "everyday Americans" during its foreign intelligence missions.

"Because some data of US persons may at times be incidentally collected in NSA's lawful foreign intelligences mission, privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process," the statement added.

GCHQ declined to comment, aside from saying its activities complied with British law.

Featured Resources

Virtual desktops and apps for dummies

An easy guide to virtual desktop infrastructure, end-user computing, and more

Download now

The total economic impact of optimising and managing your hybrid multi-cloud

Cost savings and business benefits of accelerating the cloud journey

Download now

A buyer’s guide for cloud-based phone solutions

Finding the right phone system for your modern business

Download now

What’s next for the education sector?

A new learning experience

Download now

Recommended

The IT Pro Podcast: Should companies spy on their employees?
privacy

The IT Pro Podcast: Should companies spy on their employees?

7 May 2021
NSA issues guidance on encrypted DNS usage
Domain Name System (DNS)

NSA issues guidance on encrypted DNS usage

15 Jan 2021
NSA warns smartphone users of ‘large scale data tracking’
privacy

NSA warns smartphone users of ‘large scale data tracking’

5 Aug 2020

Most Popular

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans
flexible working

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans

6 May 2021
Hackers use open source Microsoft dev platform to deliver trojans
Security

Hackers use open source Microsoft dev platform to deliver trojans

14 May 2021
How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD
operating systems

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD

30 Apr 2021