Looks like that busybody peering over your shoulder on the subway isn’t the only one keeping tabs on your Candy Crush progress. The government could also be watching as you play — and stealing your location, age, sex and other information.
Yes, new shit has come to light regarding NSA surveillance. The New York Times and ProPublica have learned in their continued perusal of Edward Snowden-leaked documents that the government is spying not only on our calls, texts and metadata, but also on our very apps.
ProPublica reports that the NSA has collected tons of info. One secret 2010 British document suggests that the NSA and its across-the-pond ally, Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, “collect such a huge volume of ‘cookies’ — the digital traces left on a mobile device or a computer when a target visits a website — that classified computers were having trouble storing it all.” Consider that the next time your MacBook complains it doesn’t have room for one more measly season of Breaking Bad.
And with the current trend in quantifying your health — everything from your daily exercise to your cervical mucus temperature — it’s not a stretch to worry that the government could one day have access to your health data if you’re a fan of period trackers and fitness apps.
“Leaky apps” are the most susceptible to spying, ProPublica reports. They “spew everything from users’ smartphone identification codes to where they have been that day.” The NSA and the British Government Communications Headquarters had collaborated on learning to collect and store data by 2007, ProPublica reports, and smart readers will recall there were barely even any good apps in existence by then.
The two 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,” ProPublica says. That’s right, the government can figure out exactly when and where you shot that last selfie.
We just hope they aren’t monitoring our Snapchat “rough drafts.”