It has emerged that UK and US spy agencies used data from popular smartphone apps like Angry Birds, as well as social network Facebook, to gather data including age, location, and sexual orientation.
Documents revealed by The Guardian last night claim the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s GCHQ (UK Government Communications Headquarters) developed capabilities to take advantage of popular apps that transmit users’ private information across the internet.
The classified documents were provided by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden and detail the efforts by the spy agencies to piggyback on popular commercial apps.
The spy agencies would use sophisticated mass surveillance tools to gather the data rather than individually hacking handsets.
The purpose of gathering such data is ostensibly to target terrorists and criminals but also to identify if devices are being used to trigger explosions in conflict zones.
By using the data, the agencies would be able to build a database recording key details of users’ lives, including their age, gender, marital status, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level and number of children of they have.
The spy agencies have also built a database geolocating every mobile phone mast in the world.