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Rovio: We don't work with government spies

Rovio: We don't work with government spies

Tue 28 Jan 2014 4:41pm GMT / 11:41am EST / 8:41am PST
MobileLegalSecurity

Angry Birds maker says it won't share end user info with NSA or other surveillance agencies

Rovio has released a statement denying any cooperation with government agencies trying to snoop on their customers' personal information.

"Rovio Entertainment Ltd, which is headquartered in Finland, does not share data, collaborate or collude with any government spy agencies such as [the USA's National Security Agency] or [Britain's Government Communications Headquarters] anywhere in the world," the company said.

The publisher's Angry Birds was the headline subject of a ProPublica report yesterday that said the two agencies have figured out how to use "leaky" apps--of which Angry Bird was one--to steal player's location, age, sex, and other information.

Rovio said such theft could be conducted through third-party advertising networks that are common among apps in all industries, adding that if that were the case, virtually no online activity would be safe from government eyes.

"Our fans' trust is the most important thing for us and we take privacy extremely seriously," Rovio CEO Mikael Hed said. "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. 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."

10 Comments

Luke Giddings
Programmer

22 5 0.2
Moral of the story, make sure your analytics are sent securely?

Posted:6 months ago

#1
Rovio is probably right, but heck it makes a darn good juicy news story

Posted:6 months ago

#2

Steve Wetz
Reviewer/Assistant Editor

185 467 2.5
This makes me wonder what kind of data Rovio is compiling that would even be NSA snoop-worthy.

Posted:6 months ago

#3

Luke Giddings
Programmer

22 5 0.2
@Steve : According to TheReg :
"Millennial's tracking software generates a personal record for each user that can store information from their political affiliation and sexual orientation to whether their marital state was single, married, divorced, engaged or "swinger." This information is used to target in-app ads more effectively, and can be collected by UK and US intelligence agencies for analysis, we're told."
@Chee - It does make a darn good juicy news story. Which is why I was very surprised most of the gaming press seem to have ignored it - unless I missed it. There is only this very small article here, which is just the denial not a story on the original report, nothing on Kotaku, Eurogamer or RPS...? Why is everywhere so silent on the issue?

Posted:6 months ago

#4

Samuel Verner
Game Designer

131 243 1.9
Rovio: We don't work with government spies
but the government spies are working with you... and you don't care because you are making money by that.

Posted:6 months ago

#5

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,282 0.9
@ Luke
There is only this very small article here, which is just the denial not a story on the original report, nothing on Kotaku, Eurogamer or RPS...? Why is everywhere so silent on the issue?
It's a conspiracy! :p

Or, there's a couple of mundane reasons. One could be that it relates to mobile gaming and apps only, so doesn't particularly get the hits. Plus, mobile gamers are oh-so-casual, so the group that it directly relates to won't even read it. Another reason is that, when you get down to it, spying on mobile apps is pretty much the easiest thing out there, and in some cases, spying is dressed as "gaming" (FourSquare, anyone?). So, maybe it's just not news.

To be honest, though, I wouldn't trust reporting about this from a gaming site. The actual news media have picked this up (or at least The Guardian has), and I trust their analysis more than Kotaku, say. *shrugs*

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 29th January 2014 10:36am

Posted:6 months ago

#6

Luke Giddings
Programmer

22 5 0.2
Possibly not, but I was at least hoping for at least *some* interest, especially on sites like this one that a lot of developers read - and also quite often has long articles about mobile-only topics. If only so that developers can try and mitigate / be more careful about what / how they send their data. Ho well.

Posted:6 months ago

#7
I think, its not so much of Rovio but any in game app or mobile app that is popular, will be targeted by the All seeing eye and Tracker Smurfs on this side of the pond. It probably has taken alot of these games companies by surprise that TPTB would snoop so low and the thought of having to produce fairly robust security on data they collect internally means a giant rethnk/patch

Posted:6 months ago

#8

Darren Adams
Managing Director

229 400 1.7
Surely they missed "want people to know we" in the title. :D

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 29th January 2014 8:43pm

Posted:6 months ago

#9

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

806 1,002 1.2
"We WON'T share". Really?

See my past comment about analytics, this sentence should read: "We are UNABLE to share". Because we don't spy on you either.

Posted:6 months ago

#10

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