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January 29, 2014

Angry Birds Site Hacked After Alleged NSA Link

Parent Site Rovio Denies Affiliation With Any Spy Agency

Rovio Entertainment image

Rovio Entertainment Ltd., the maker of Angry birds, was hit by hackers today, just days after media reports of spy agencies accessing users’ information via the popular gaming app.

Those attempting to access the Angry birds website during the hack were greeted by an image of some of the app’s characters alongside a sign reading ‘Spying Birds’ and a National Security Agency logo. The site is now back to normal.

Angry Birds was linked early this week to the National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s spy agency GCHQ, according to documents NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden supplied to three media outlets.

The spy agencies, according to the documents, may be using what are known as “leaky apps” such as Angry Birds, Google Maps, Facebook or Twitter to grab user data as part of their worldwide surveillance programs.

Although the documents were not specific in exactly how much data is retrieved from apps, they did indicate the NSA and GCHQ “routinely” nabbed data from “leaky” apps, many of which were introduced early in this mobile era.

The documents also indicated that many newer apps, such as Angry Birds, have similar data mining capabilities, but did not say if the spy agencies have actually used them.

Rovio has denied sharing data or collaborating in any way with the NSA or GCHQ. The Finnish company said if such surveillance is being conducted, it is likely being done through third-party advertising networks “used by millions of commercial websites and mobile applications across all industries.”

Mobile apps often collect data — such as age, gender and location — and disclose the info to advertisers which, in turn, use it to better target their advertising.

The company added that it does not allow any third-party network to use or share personal end-user data from its apps.

“Our fans’ trust is the most important thing for us and we take privacy extremely seriously,” Rovio Entertainment CEO Mikael Hed said in a press release. “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,” he said. “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.”


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.