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 Angry Birds ' Rovio: 'We have not colluded with the NSA'
Angry Birds' Rovio: 'We have not colluded with the NSA'
January 29, 2014 | By Mike Rose

January 29, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing

Following speculation that the user data from Rovio's mobile hit franchise Angry Birds has been targeted by the National Security Agency, Rovio has now said that it has never shared any user data with the agency.

New documents leaked by Edward Snowden earlier this week, as reported by The Guardian, allege that the NSA and its UK counterpart GCHQ are targeting "leaky" mobile apps that transmit user information.

The report suggests that the NSA is able to acquire personal details like names, ages, genders and locations from these mobile game communications, including from the Angry Birds games.

Rovio has now stated that it "does not share data, collaborate or collude with any government spy agencies such as NSA or GCHQ anywhere in the world."

"The alleged surveillance may be conducted through third party advertising networks used by millions of commercial web sites and mobile applications across all industries," it continues. "If advertising networks are indeed targeted, it would appear that no internet-enabled device that visits ad-enabled web sites or uses ad-enabled applications is immune to such surveillance. Rovio does not allow any third party network to use or hand over personal end-user data from Rovio’s apps."

Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio, added that since this alleged surveillance may be happening through third-party networks, the company is now re-evaluating which networks it works with in the future.

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Ron Dippold
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> Rovio has now stated that it "does not share data, collaborate or collude with any government spy agencies such as NSA or GCHQ anywhere in the world."

That's pretty disingenuous, though it's a very standard PR technique of answering a different question than the one you were asked - which, amusingly, the US spy apparatus also does a lot.

The documents don't claim Rovio's doing this on purpose. They claim that badly designed apps leak data all over the place place by asking for All the Permissions, sucking up All the Personal Data on the phone and sending it back to HQ unencrypted, and then on top of that serving up ads which can exploit that and leave tracking cookies lying around.

To be fair to Rovio, complete disregard for user privacy seems to be industry standard app practice. Heck, it's part of the business model.

Matt Jahns
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To be fair to Rovio, it wasn't unreasonable for them to ignore the possibility of government-backed attacks. The scale and sophistication of the NSA is far beyond anything a game developer can handle. More importantly, you would never expect a government to target a video game in the first place.

So you have an improbable event you cannot stop. Why waste resources preparing for it? It would be like trying to engineer cars capable of withstanding meteor impacts.

We should be blaming the meteor, not the car it obliterated. The government has to reign the NSA in. There is no other solution.

Ron Dippold
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Other ne'er-do-wells are using those holes, though it's not as effective without global data slurping. Eastern Euro hackers for instance. I think publishers don't bother wasting resources on it because they don't consider it their problem if their players get their information stolen. Doesn't affect their bottom line (and worrying about it would).