NSA

New Snowden Revelation: NSA, GCHQ Look Through Apps To Find Personal Data

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Credit: thethreesisters / Foter.com / CC BY

According to reporting from The New York Times, the NSA and the British GCHQ have been gathering information on individuals from smartphone apps.

From The New York Times:

The N.S.A. and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters were working together on how to collect and store data from dozens of smartphone apps by 2007, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. Since then, the agencies have traded recipes for grabbing location and planning data when a target uses Google Maps, and for vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.

The eavesdroppers' pursuit of mobile networks has been outlined in earlier reports, but the secret documents, shared by The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica, offer far more details of their ambitions for smartphones and the apps that run on them. The efforts were part of an initiative called "the mobile surge," according to a 2011 British document, an analogy to the troop surges in Iraq and Afghanistan. One N.S.A. analyst's enthusiasm was evident in the breathless title — "Golden Nugget!" — given to one slide for a top-secret 2010 talk describing iPhones and Android phones as rich resources, one document notes.

The New York Times mentions one document that highlights the sort of information spy agencies can obtain through examining apps:

A secret 2012 British intelligence document says that spies can scrub smartphone apps that contain details like a user's "political alignment" and sexual orientation.

More from Reason.com on the NSA here.