The NSA Is Using Angry Birds to Spy on You
Many popular smartphone apps are being mined for user data by the government, and authorities are using them to track your sexual habits.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Attention all you swingers who love playing Angry Birds. The NSA is watching you.
According to documents from the National Security Agency, released by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published by The New York Times and the Guardian, the government is monitoring popular smartphone apps like Angry Birds to collect some information on you. In some cases, the information collected can even track your sexual preference.
The collection supplements data the government already gets from wireless carriers, but many of the most downloaded apps appear to be ripe for interception. For instance, according to the Guardian, some apps "can share users' most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences, such as whether or not the user may be a swinger."
Related: NSA Reportedly Put Spyware on Consumer Tech Products
Angry Birds was targeted because it is so widely used, but other apps give even richer data to government spies, according to the reports. For instance, Google Maps was particularly vulnerable, since the NSA was able to collect data on smartphone location queries to track users moves and habits.
"So successful was this effort," the Guardian wrote, "that one 2008 document noted that '[i]t effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of'" UK's spy agency.
And, not to be outdone, the documents provided by Snowden show that photo uploads to social-media sites are a treasure trove of data – even in places like Twitter and Facebook that have said they strip important metadata from the images to protect privacy.
Related: Tech Giants Form Group to Pressure U.S. Over Surveillance