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Angry Birds developers downplay fresh data leak claims

Privacy flap

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The developers of Angry Birds have hit back at renewed allegations that the ultra-popular game leaks users' personal information.

Security vendor FireEye put out a detailed critique of Angry Birds last week claiming that the smartphone game leaked data like a sieve.

An early March update of Angry Birds, available through Google Play, works together with ad-mediation platform Burstly and third-party ad networks such as Jumptap and Millennial Media to store and share users information. FireEye researchers warn that the system as a whole is insecure. As a result, users' personal email addresses, ages and genders entered into Angry Birds' servers are potentially being gathered, stored and shared across the web, they claim.

Rovio, the Finnish firm behind Angry Birds, downplayed these concerns while adding that it was migrating towards its own ad platform.

Millions of commercial web sites and mobile applications across all industries, use third party ad networks. Our fans trust is the most important thing to us. Rovio does not require end users to share data. The traffic between our games and the Rovio cloud is always encrypted. Rovio does not allow any third party network to use or hand over personal end-user data from Rovio’s games. In addition, Rovio is increasingly moving towards managing its own ad platform.'

Rovio's analytics and data usage policy is here. Its privacy policy is here.

Back in January a leak from the Snowden files revealed that GCHQ and the NSA were slurping data leaked from smartphone apps such as Angry Birds.

The leak revealed that the spy agencies were sniffing out users' locations, their political beliefs and even their sexual preferences through smartphone apps. Angry Birds was used as a case study in the leaked data, which drew a hacklash against Rovio even though it was only one developer among many that was unwittingly helping the Five Eyes with their dragnet surveillance programme.

Rovio issued a statement at the time stating that it "does not share data, collaborate or collude with any government spy agencies such as NSA or GCHQ anywhere in the world," and blaming third-party ad networks for any personal data spillage. ®

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