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NSA and GCHQ target smart phone apps to spy on your personal data

Creative Media Mavericks - Smartphone Spys

NSA and GCHQ target smart phone apps to spy on your personal data

The UK and US spy agencies now have ways of tapping into and collecting data sent across the internet through many apps you can download to your smart phone. The game Angry Birds, which has been downloaded over 1.7 billion times, is one such app the security services have been using to collect this data and the information they can gather is surprisingly more personal than you may think.

Apart from statistics on how many people have downloaded the game, the apps also have access to your contacts, messages, social media and location. This means that it is possible to determine a user’s age, exact location, who their friends are, how much they earn, whether they are gay or straight and the security services can even intercept images being sent to other users or uploaded to social media sites.

Whether the NSA and GCHQ actually use our private information is unclear but metadata such as geo-location is logged and used to build a database of users locations which effectively tracks everywhere a user goes.

Rovio, the company behind Angry Birds, has issued a statement explaining that they have nothing to do with the NSA and GCHQ and no knowledge of people gathering user information through their app.

Although spyware has been around for years and most websites these days use cookies to collect basic user information which many people accept as the norm, data collected through apps contains far more detailed information and real time location which is far more valuable to anyone wanting to keep track of someone.

The UK and US spy agencies have stated that they are not doing this to track us and that they do not collect information on citizens but only on possible terror suspects and international criminals. However you look at it though, the fact that people have the ability to track and watch everything you do at any time can seem like a huge invasion of privacy. Intelligence agencies have the ability to remotely activate a phone that is switched off and use the microphone inside to listen in to conversations as well as being able to and track a cell phone anywhere in the world.

If you own a smart phone then there is not much you can do about any of this and the full extent of the data collection being carried out is currently unknown. The Government has tried to ensure people that they are not being spied on, their user data is safe and only the phones of potential criminal are being monitored, however it is understandable that there are many people who are unhappy with their personal data possibly being so unsecure. Data collection from personal devices, even if it is carried out by Government, is still subject to the same laws and legislations that any company must abide by and the NSA and GCHQ confirm that they carry out all action strictly within UK and US law.

[Article referenced from theguardian.com 28-01-2014]