Depending on what profile information a user had supplied, the documents suggested, the NSA would be able to collect almost every key detail of a user’s life: including
– home country,
– current location (through geolocation),
– zip code,
– martial status – options included « single », « married », « divorced », « swinger » and more –
– sexual orientation,
– education level,
– and number of children.
The documents do set out in great detail exactly how much information can be collected from widely popular apps. One document held on GCHQ’s internal Wikipedia-style guide for staff details what can be collected from different apps. Though it uses Android apps for most of its examples, it suggests much of the same data could be taken from equivalent apps on iPhone or other platforms.
The GCHQ documents set out examples of what information can be extracted from different ad platforms, using perhaps the most popular mobile phone game of all time, Angry Birds – which has reportedly been downloaded more than 1.7bn times – as a case study.
From some app platforms, relatively limited, but identifying, information such as exact handset model, the unique ID of the handset, software version, and similar details are all that are transmitted.
Other apps choose to transmit much more data, meaning the agency could potentially net far more. One mobile ad platform, Millennial Media, appeared to offer particularly rich information. Millennial Media’s website states it has partnered with Rovio on a special edition of Angry Birds; with Farmville maker Zynga; with Call of Duty developer Activision, and many other major franchises.
the richer personal data available to many apps, coupled with real-time geolocation, and the uniquely identifying handset information many apps transmit give the agencies a far richer data source than conventional web-tracking cookies.
An ability to make the phone’s microphone ‘hot’, to listen in to conversations, is named « Nosey Smurf ».
High-precision geolocation is called « Tracker Smurf »,
power management – an ability to stealthily activate an a phone that is apparently turned off – is « Dreamy Smurf »,
while the spyware’s self-hiding capabilities are codenamed « Paranoid Smurf ».
Source : The Guardian, 27 janvier 2014