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Secret documents reveal NSA may be spying on you with Angry Birds (update)

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.

Developer Rovio detailed in its privacy policy that personal data made available to the company when players use the app include (but are not limited to) email address, device IP, user names and passwords, and that this data can be used or disclosed to its partners for the purposes of advertising.

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.

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