It has been reported that personal data has been obtained by the British spy agency, Government Communications HQ (GCHQ) and the US spy agency, National Security Agency (NSA) from smartphone apps which leak personal data.
The documents were leaked by Edward Snowden who is currently living in asylum in Russia and faces espionage charges in the USA after revealing the NSA’s telephone and surveillance programmes last year.
It is reported that the leaked documents show that mapping, gaming and social networking apps are providing the GCHQ and NSA with location information and other details such as their political association and sexual orientation.
One app that has been heavily exploited is Angry Birds. It is one of the leading apps with a download count of over 1.7 billion worldwide.
Rovio, the company that made the app Angry Birds claimed that they have no knowledge of the GCHQ or NSA trying to collect data from their app.
Saara Bergström, who is Rovio’s VP of marketing and communications stated, “Rovio doesn’t have any previous knowledge of this matter, and have not been aware of such activity in 3rd party advertising networks. Nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mentioned (NSA and GCHQ).”
Angry Birds wasn’t the only app to be detailed in which personal data was obtained. In one of the leaked documents, there was a list which detailed other mobile apps which could be exploited. Such apps that were listed included the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Flixster and Flickr.
Reports in the New York Times and the Guardian suggested that the joint spying programme “effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system.”
The NSA has released a statement claiming that these allegations are not true. In the statement, they claimed that, “Any implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is focused on the smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true. We collect only those communications that we are authorised by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes – regardless of the technical means used by the targets.”
The GCHQ refused to comment but claimed that all of its activities were “authorised, necessary and proportionate.”
With social media apps and gaming apps becoming more and more popular, it is important that you are happy with just how much personal data is potentially being disclosed as it is unknown just who may be able to access it.