The latest documents leaked from Edward Snowden have revealed that the NSA have been routinely gaining access to personal information through mobile applications, including Angry Birds.

Data such as locations, visited websites and contacts are what the NSA have been harvesting, claim the documents. In response to the claims, the NSA stated that it was not interested in data other than that pertaining to  “valid foreign intelligence targets”.

The statement said: “Any implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is focused on the smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true.”

Angry Birds Hero

The leaked documents do not state how wide spread the data collecting is but it does say that mapping, gaming and social networking applications are among the targets in collecting the data.

A GCHQ document from 2008 states that the joint venture between the British and U.S. intelligence agencies  “effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system” .

In 2012 another report from GCHQ explained how information could be obtained from an Android smartphone owner through the Angry Birds game. Snowden’s documents also mentioned applications like Flickr, Flixster and applications that connect to Facebook, all of which have been exposed to the NSA’s data collection programmes.

Court Ruling

Major technology companies wanting to be able to share information about their responses to the NSA’s requests, have finally reached an agreement with the Department of Justice. Tech companies will all now be able to release the following information:

  • The number of criminal-related orders from the government
  • The number of secret national security-related orders from government investigators, rounded to the nearest thousand
  • How many national security-related orders came from the foreign service intelligence and the number of customers those orders affected
  • Whether those orders were for just email addresses or covered additional information
  • Alternatively they can opt to issue a report that provides less detail but lets them state the number of national security and intelligence orders in batches of 250

However they will not be allowed to reveal government surveillance of new technology or new communication technology that they develop for two years.

[Image via UK Playstation]