The National Security Agency and U.K. counterpart Government Communication Headquarters developed the capability to use “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 Guardian reported.
According to the Guardian, dozens of classified documents provided by former NSA contractor-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden and reported in partnership with The New York Times andProPublica detail the NSA and GCHQ’s efforts to piggyback on this commercial data collection for their own purposes:
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.
Exploiting phone information and location is a high-priority effort for the intelligence agencies, as terrorists and other intelligence targets make substantial use of phones in planning and carrying out their activities, for example by using phones as triggering devices in conflict zones. The NSA has cumulatively spent more than $1bn in its phone targeting efforts.
“I think that you need to understand that of course I’m not in a position to discuss specifics of intelligence collection,” Carney said. “But to be clear, as the president said in his January 17 speech, to the extent data is collected by the NSA, through whatever means, we are not interested in the communications of people who are not valid intelligence targets. And we are not after the information of ordinary Americans, which presumably contradicts the premise of your question.
Jones followed, “Then why are they taking it?”
“Again, Victoria, I can’t discuss specific means of data collection. But to the extent that the NSA collects information, it is focused on valid foreign intelligence targets and not the information of ordinary Americans,” Carney said. He went on, “Terrorists, proliferators, other bad actors use the same communication tools that others use.”
That’s when he leveled this charge: “I mean I’m not even sure what protection you’re seeking there for a potential terrorist.”
Keep reading. VIDEO of the exchange.