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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

1/28/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

If you ever find yourself playing Angry Birds on your Smartphone to wile away idle hours, a recent bit of information may just may you just as angry: The National Security Agency, also known as NSA, and its British counterpart, Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ routinely riffles through such apps regularly - obtaining a wealth of personal information.

Those who play Angry Birds may become angrier still with the recent news that this app is frequently spied upon by the NSA --

Those who play Angry Birds may become angrier still with the recent news that this app is frequently spied upon by the NSA --

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/28/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: NSA, GCHQ, Smartphones, Angry Birds, spying, Edward Snowden


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Both the NSA and GCHQ regularly pilfer phone apps for user data, such as age, gender and location in their global search for "terrorism" suspects. This is just the latest from NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the former contractor who tipped off the world as to what these agencies secretly do.

In an interview with Snowden appearing in the New York Times, the Guardian and the nonprofit news site ProPublica, the two agencies frequently exchange techniques for stealing info from users' address books and phone logs. Geographic data stamped on photos and circulated online via mobile versions of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are also gathered.

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Seemingly "harmless" software can be turned into instruments of espionage. The video game Angry Birds game which has been downloaded more than 1.7 billion times worldwide, was one of the foremost examples.

The NSA did not directly comment on the reports, but noted that the communications of those who were not "valid foreign intelligence targets" were not of interest to the spy agency. In addition, Britain's GCHQ said it did not comment on intelligence matters, but insisted that all of its activity was "authorized, necessary and proportionate."

The information gleaned from the apps is not entirely known. However, the data generated by the app could be examined to determine a phone's settings, where it connected to, which websites it had visited, which documents it had downloaded and who its users' friends were. The apps can even be mined for information about users' political alignment or sexual orientation.

The government and Internet giants including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have since reached an agreement that will allow them to disclose data on how often the NSA and other federal agencies ask them to turn over customer information as part of national security investigations.


President Barack Obama called on the federal government to curtail its collection of phone data from millions of Americans earlier this month. The president ordered intelligence agencies to obtain permission from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before accessing such records.

"The reforms I'm proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe," he said in a speech at the Justice Department on January 17.

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