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Agencies 'using apps' to spy on users

BRITISH and American spy agencies use applications such as the game Angry Birds to gain users' personal data, it has been revealed.

GCHQ, the government's listening post, and the US National Security Agency (NSA) are using smartphone applications to gather details such as age, gender, and location.

Some applications can even share sexual orientation, marital status and income, it was claimed.

The disclosure comes in the latest round of classified documents provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The reports suggest data is gleaned through mapping, gaming and social networking applications, using techniques similar to those used to intercept text message data and mobile internet traffic.

Most major social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, remove metadata that can give away information about location from photographs before they are published.

But during the uploading process data can, briefly, be available for collection by spying agencies.

Depending on a user's profile information, the documents suggested, agencies could collect almost every useful detail, including home country, current location, age, gender, postcode, marital status, income, ethnicity, education, sexual orientation and number of children.

One NSA document from 2010, entitled Golden Nugget, described a "perfect scenario" in which the agency could gather a broad range of information, including phone lists, websites visited and documents downloaded.

Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, said it had no involvement with GCHQ or the NSA, and that it didn't have any previous knowledge of the matter.

GCHQ said its activities were proportional and complied with UK law.

Contextual targeting label: 
Hobbies and general interest

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