The National Security Agency has become one of the most disliked agencies in the United States and even around the world, all because of a series of leaks from one of its former contractors, Edward Snowden. As more information has been released by the journalists working with Snowden, it has become clear that there is very little a person can do that is free from the eyes of the NSA and a new report backs up that fact.
A report on a new set of Snowden documents has shown that the NSA and its British counterpart have been spying on mobile apps for years. The Guardian, The New York Times, and ProPublica have all released reports stating that both agencies have found ways to collect data through mobile apps and games since at least 2007. At the same time, the NSA is also finding it hard to discover important information inside of the massive amounts of data.
Since then, the agencies have traded recipes for grabbing location and planning data when a target uses Google Maps, and for vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services. – ProPublica Report
Any popular application that is capable of providing useful information on a person is potentially at risk according to this report and even games like Angry Birds are not safe.
The scope of this sort of collection has not been released but it is now clear that the NSA retrieves data from numerous mobile applications on a regular basis and that the most common apps (Facebook, Twitter, etc) are of particular interest to the spy agencies.
The White House has already tried to respond to this report, with spokesman Jay Carney suggesting that these collection methods are only used when dealing with terrorists and other people that wish to harm 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
Unfortunately, much of this mobile app data collection is possible because of companies like Google and Facebook. Since these companies choose to collect large amounts of data on their users, the NSA has the ability to hijack that collection process to get information for itself.
Although it is possible that the NSA would be able to find other ways of collecting data from mobile phones if companies were to limit their own collection, the current state of affairs makes it very easy for any government spy agency to attain information.
Summary: A new set of Snowden documents has revealed that the NSA is collecting data from popular mobile apps including Facebook, Twitter, and Angry Birds.
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