Mobile phone gaming application Angry Birds may face the heat from fans after a report detailing its use in spying was leaked. According to the leaked document the game user’s personal data was being accessed through the app as well as through other apps in their Smartphones.
This revelation from the leak indicates that GCHQ and NSA have been gathering details about the users including location, age along with gender and details of websites visited and stored contacts. The leak is part of the latest round of documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
World’s entire Smartphone population with an estimated size of over a billion has application like Angry Birds stored in them. NSA and British spying agencies targeted these applications common in the smart phones and got access to all the information stored inside those phones. The extracted information even gave inputs on the sexual orientation of the user and political affiliations as well.
In an indirect comment from NSA, it stated that the spy agency was no interested in communication of individuals who do not fall under their global intelligence targets. The statement further clarified that the allegations about NSA’s intelligence gathering from everyday Americans and their communications on either Smartphone or social media was incorrect and held no truth.
GCHQ also has skirted around the controversial leak and has commented that all its activities were always proportionately authorized and had the necessary clearance.
However, the leak published on Monday in The New York Times, The Guardian, and ProPublica which has generated a lot of heat clearly indicates otherwise. It has also left users of the popular Angry Birds and Google Maps application in shock and many could soon axe these applications from their Smartphones in fear of being under constant surveillance.
Angry Birds franchise is the highest downloaded “freemium” game of all time with its more thtn two billion downloads since the day of its release. The popularity of the game is beyond geographical, cultural, age and gender boundaries of the planet.
This popularity of the game is what makes it a target for the spying agencies who would be interested to tap its huge user base. Even apps for Facebook and other websites are also been reported to be tapped by these agencies. However, although these websites delete the personal information stored as metadata on all uploads; the uploading time can be used to extract all relevant information.
The creator and distributor of the Angry Birds franchise Rovio has clarified that it has no knowledge or involvement with the spy agencies and that they are a purely a gaming franchise. Google is yet to respond to its role in the entire controversy; however an acceptance of a role in the spying program by Google is highly unlikely.
It is a well known fact that there are hundreds of spying applications on the internet itself that can assist anyone who wishes to spy on anyone’s Smartphone. The spying application serves multiple purposes including recording of voice calls, text messages, chat message contents and even real time location mapping.
Intelligence agencies are also known to use their own set of apps to spy on unsuspecting public is and this is amply documented. However, widely popular applications like Angry Birds also assisting in the spying operation could put off gamers from it. Rovio may have to face the heat over the allegations as many would just prefer to axe the game from their Smartphones altogether.
By Daris Abraham