Angry Birds: taking over your computer first, and then your mind.

Play Angry Birds, give data to the NSA

Documents provided by Snowden show how spy agencies use commercial data from "leaky" apps

Natasha Lennard
January 27, 2014 11:12PM (UTC)

The latest revelation from NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden's document trove details how the spy agency and its British counterpart, GHCQ, have been relying on so-called "leaky" smartphone apps -- like the game Angry Birds -- to obtain swathes of data.

Widely popular smartphone apps, which ask for user data, often make this data commercially available -- typically via agreements with third party advertisers -- without a user's knowing. As a leaked NSA document noted, such data is a "Golden Nugget" to data-hoarding spy agencies.


"Leaky" apps can gather an immense amount of personal information. As the Guardian, breaking the revelation Monday, reported:

Depending on what profile information a user had supplied, the documents suggested, the agency would be able to collect almost every key detail of a user's life: including home country, current location (through geolocation), age, gender, zip code, martial status – options included "single", "married", "divorced", "swinger" and more – income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level, and number of children.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Angry Birds Apps Data Edward Snowden Gchq Nsa Smartphones Spying Surveillance

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