Rovio responds to reports of NSA taking advantage of leaky apps
Several news agencies on Monday reported that the National Security Agency and its U.K. counterpart (Britain's Government Communications Headquarters) have been working together to collect data from dozens of so-called "leaky" smartphone apps, including Rovio's popular Angry Birds game. Top secret documents claim these apps transmit all kinds of user information over the web, which spy agencies scoop up and store. Having been called out specifically by several reports, Rovio issued a statement denying it collaborates with any spying organization.
To be clear, the classified documents don't suggest that these agencies are necessarily working directly with app makers. As it pertains to Rovio, the NSA and its U.K. cohort are tapping into third-party advertising networks to collect personal data transmitted by the Angry Birds app. Rovio denies it's been working with these agencies and says if advertising networks are indeed being targeted, then no Internet-enabled devices that visits ad-enabled websites or uses ad-enabled apps is immune to such surveillance.
“Our fans’ trust is the most important thing for us and we take privacy extremely seriously. We do not collaborate, collude, or share data with spy agencies anywhere in the world. As the alleged surveillance might be happening through third party advertising networks, the most important conversation to be had is how to ensure user privacy is protected while preventing the negative impact on the whole advertising industry and the countless mobile apps that rely on ad networks”, Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio Entertainment, stated in a blog post today. "In order to protect our end users, we will, like all other companies using third party advertising networks, have to re-evaluate working with these networks if they are being used for spying purposes."
According to reports published by The New York Times,The Guardian, and other news outlets, intercepted data can include information such as age, gender, location, and even sexual orientation, depending on the app.