US and UK spy agencies scan mobile apps for user info

Smartphone SpyThe US’s NSA and the UK’s GCHQ have reportedly been long since lurking within mobile apps to capture use demographic information, such as name, age, sex and location.

Reports from British intelligence have claimed that mobile apps have been a hot commodity from spy agencies. Among the most valuable are those apps that remain very open, “leaking” data such as GPS coordinates of users continuously. But any that they could build a back door into offer a potential platform for exploitation.

This is not a new concept. Documents that have previously been unreleased, originally provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, show that the US and UK began plans for this project as far back as 2007. Once they had established a basic formula, they started to experiment and sent new tactics to one another in order to get around updates, into more mobile apps, and circumvent security.

Photos, address books, messages and GPS and other data related to their smartphone are among the details gathered through this surveillance, being stored in the same way as other online information has been.

Right now, we have no way of knowing just what apps have been used. The memos don’t specify, except to suggest that Google Maps is among one of the most frequently exploited. There is also mention of Angry Birds, but it only says that can gather data, and not that they have. Though if I were a betting girl, I would have to guess they wouldn’t leave that avenue untraveled if it were open to them.

It is becoming harder and  harder for spy agencies the world over to claim that these are matters of national security. If they have been using various apps that are used by citizens, it seems hard to believe there would be any application for targeting terror suspects. Of course, with the huge collection of data we have already seen, that explanation went out the window a long time ago.

However, the NSA is still giving the same line about it being totally on board.

N.S.A. does not profile everyday Americans as it carries out its foreign intelligence mission,” the agency told the New York Times.

Because some data of U.S. persons may at times be incidentally collected in N.S.A.’s lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for U.S. persons exist across the entire process.

I’m sorry, could you repeat that? I couldn’t hear you over the sound of trillions of phone and data details being gathered and stored from the average citizen.

Source: NYT

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