PERSONAL PRIVACY: NSA collect data from apps - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

PERSONAL PRIVACY: NSA collects data from apps

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NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden is uncovering even more information about how the agency gathers information by explaining how some popular smartphone apps can be used to spy.

After Tuesday, smartphone users can add Angry Birds to the list of things the NSA is collecting information about.

"They are not focused on the information of ordinary Americans," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

Although the NSA says its massive data collection efforts are all carried out in the name of national security, few can understand how that has to do with their high score.

"I don't' like it," Andrew Watson, senior mobile developer at the Nerdery. "I want to know that what I'm doing, I'm in control of -- and it's not being used for any other purpose that I have not agreed to."

According to documents leaked by Snowden, the NSA -- along with its British counterpart GC-HQ -- can pinpoint a person's location when they use Google Maps or post a picture to social media sites.

"It's sending data that I didn't plan on it sending, and that leaky data got gobbled up by the NSA," Watson explained.

Watson told Fox 9 News that the information being collected is unencrypted data about the user and includes details intended for advertisers, such as age, gender and location. Usually, those are things that people agree to share when they download "free" apps.

Computer forensic expert Mark Lanterman added that even though the NSA is data mining, it is also collecting far more information than the agency could possibly analyze.

"That information, I think, has minimal value," he said.

In order to control how much personal information is shared willingly or otherwise, it's best to avoid logging into anything with a Google or Facebook account because that could grant access to all profile information of the user and their contacts.

While the information being collected by the apps is usually spelled out in the user agreements, experts say few people ever actually read them; however, most phones have a preference setting that can control what information is shared with advertisers.

HOW TO: Disable ad tracking on an iPhone

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