The National Security Agency and its British counterpart may have scooped up Angry Birds player data as well as data from other "leaky apps" as it sought user information from mobile ad companies, according to a secret British report made public today by ProPublica and The New York Times.
According to the 2012 report, the NSA and British intelligence frequently collected user data from mobile ad companies and "mined" it for information, comparing it with their lists of intelligence targets. The Angry Birds app, which has been downloaded more than a billion times, tracked users' locations and other data and passed it onto mobile ad companies, which means it is possible that Angry Birds player data may be among the information the intelligence agencies scooped up.
A Rovio spokesperson told ProPublica that the company had no knowledge of the intelligence programs, "nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mention," the spokesperson said with regards to the NSA and the British intelligence agency.
The secret British report on which ProPublica based its findings included a computer code that could be used to obtain the profiles generated when Android users play Angry Birds. According to the report, the profiles on users the ad agencies scooped up varied depending on the agency, but most contained data like the user's age, sex, location and phone identification. Other profiles, not necessarily related to the Angry Birds app, contain more personal information like marital status, ethnicity, sexual orientation and even household income.
This is not the first time that video games have been targeted in government spy programs. Classified documents disclosed last year revealed that the NSA had a history of spying with online games and services like Xbox Live, World of Warcraft and Second Life.
Update: Angry Birds developer Rovio issued a statement saying it does not provide end user data to government surveillance agencies.
- Polygon's games of the year 2014 #8: Shovel Knight
- The Interview to hit YouTube, Google Play and other streaming services today (update)
- Best of the rest 2014: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze deserves more love than it got
- John Romero's Christmas present is cooler than yours
- Lego Wind Waker map will have you busy through New Year's
- Knights of the Old Republic hits Android, $5 for a limited time
- Assassin's Creed Unity was the game of 2014 — not for the right reasons
- The Interview available on Xbox Video but not PlayStation Store, coming to PSN 'shortly' (update)
- No Man's Sky: what we know, and what we hope to learn in 2015
- Get better at Super Smash Bros. with these technical training videos
- Polygon Daily: Off-Topic: T'was the Eve Before Christmas ( Wed 24/12 )
- Anime, Cartoons, Comics! Plight Vol. 3, No 5- Terror and Mystery in the Western Frontier
- Pokémon Discussions - Primal Evolution Ain't Cheap
- Anime, Cartoons, Comics! Plight Vol. 3, No. 4.1 - 'Tis the Week Before...
- What are your top 25 games of all-time?