The National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have been developing capabilities to take advantage of “leaky” smartphone apps, such as the wildly popular Angry Birds game, that transmit users’ private information across the internet, according to top secret documents.
The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger…
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.
The agencies also made use of their mobile interception capabilities to collect location information in bulk, from Google and other mapping apps. One basic effort by GCHQ and the NSA was to build a database geolocating every mobile phone mast in the world – meaning that just by taking tower ID from a handset, location information could be gleaned…
The NSA said its phone interception techniques are only used against valid targets blah, blah, blah.
GCHQ declined to comment on any of its specific programs, but stressed blah, blah, blah.
Official liars both sides of the pond assure us the protocols in place don’t violate anyone’s rights or privacy. Their patented bobblehead judges have examined the potential for abuse and found nothing to threaten our liberty.
Phew. I need a new pair of Wellies just to stand around in that much bullshit – even offered in irony.