Angry hackers target Angry Birds website after news of NSA spying hijinks




It's to be expected. Angry Birds is the world's cutest and most popular game about indiscriminate suicide bombing of civilian populations and infrastructure, so the feds want to keep a sharp eye on the players...


I always knew The Future would be weird. But the funny thing about weird is, you never quite expect it to be as weird as it turns out to be.


Not to defend Angry Birds but I know some other mobile developers try to monitize by usign an ad network. To ad company provides a library. It's that library that needs the permissions. There are also metrics companies who also provide libraries that also need those permissions.

That's not an excuse. Arguably it would be nice of the libraries didn't require the permissions but until enough users start caring it's not likely anything is going to change.

As for getting the model number of the phone, most app developers would like to track bugs and or crashes and it's certainly helpful to know if they correlate with a specific model and or OS version. On the other hand it would probably be nice if they asked permission before (like say Chrome does when you install it)


They don't mention the one that spurred me to remove all Rovio titles from my devices. Oddly, I think that was the only one in the series that wanted those permissions.


Is there a single permission on that list that isn't overreaching? Maybe I'm just old and bitter and paranoid; but absolutely nothing on that list looks like access a local program that calculates trajectories for cartoon birds should be given...


That's because of these:

There's a little QR code on the bottom of the bird, and a magnifying glass "stand" that it uses to import the bird into the game. And it uses your device's camera to do it.


Unfortunately, I think the same thing about most of the apps I've downloaded to my phone. And I'm even more irritated that Google took away the capacity to lock down apps to a personal standard. It's just so easy to agree to the apps' desired level of control and thereby turn a phone into an ad-spitting geo-locator that can listen in whenever it feels the need.



I'm even more irritated that Google took away the capacity to lock down apps to a personal standard.

Yeah, Google makes a lot of interesting choices like that, don't they?

Try installing Google's Picasa photo gallery software on a computer and watch how on first launch they put up a dialog box (that you cannot close or cancel) that forces you to scan your computer for pictures.

The only two "choices" in this mandatory dialog box is scanning your entire computer or just everything in your user folder. The ONLY way to stop this process is to force quit the application whether you are on Windows or Mac.

It then happily goes about not only scanning everything and grabbing all your photos, but it also starts scanning all your photos for facial recognition (whether you want it to or not).

It's only after Picasa goes about scanning all your shit (whether you wanted it to or not in the first place) that one can slowly dig through the settings to find a way to stop it.

I'm thankful that I've only run Google Picasa in a Winows VM that I later destroyed.

I prefer my Android tablets over the Apple iOS iPad for many reasons, but unlike my Mac running OS X on my laptop, every time I pick up my Android tablet I get the distinct feeling I'm being watched... closely by Google.

Oh, I should also mention that Google Picasa makes you "agree" to an extremely long EULA before the app will even run. They also make it so it's not easy to copy and paste the EULA, nor save it, but was able to snag the text on a Mac:

Some of the highlights of the EULA:

  1. Your relationship with Google

Aw, how sweet, I've now entered into a "relationship" with Google by running an app.

you may be required to provide information about yourself ...You agree that any registration information you give to Google will always be accurate, correct and up to date.

I guess they need my real name in order for everything to be "accurate" and run smoothly in a photo gallery app.

8.3 Google reserves the right (but shall have no obligation) to pre-screen, review, flag, filter, modify, refuse or remove any or all Content

How quaint, they call spying "pre-screening".

11.1 ... By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

Google basically co-owns your photos now. Congrats.

11.2 You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships

Oh wait, Google and anyone else they like also co-owns your photos now. Stellar.

11.3 You understand that Google .. may transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media ... You agree that this licence shall permit Google to take these actions.

That's fine, but what if I don't want Google to transmit my images to anyone else or secretly to their servers or the NSA? I just want to use a private photo gallery for my photos on my computer. Oh, well...

11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above licence.

This seems to give Google all the permission it needs to grab all my photos and facial recognition data without my knowledge before I was able to stop the process after installation. Actually, they can probably take the photos anyway from the entire hard drive if they want to, really.

17.1 Some of the Services are supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions. These advertisements may be targeted to the content of information stored on the Services, queries made through the Services or other information.

17.2 The manner, mode and extent of advertising by Google on the Services are subject to change without specific notice to you.

So random advertisers get to look at my photos too? And, the extent of their access to my photos and perhaps data can increase without my knowledge, maybe in a software update? Great.

Such a great photo gallery app, it is.

EDIT: Oh, and they install a Picasa plugin into your browser without your knowledge as well just for launching the app. Google is evil.


Full network access is required for ads. Android permissions aren't fine-grained enough to let the app developer pick something more limited. That and the other Network communication thing with Google Play billing service I can completely understand. Not sure why they need your location other than maybe for localizing ads. Phone calls if I recall correctly is so when you get a call, the game knows to pause. Your accounts is so it can post on Facebook as you.


Since I don't keep any images in my desktop or user folders, I just had it scan those folders. Didn't bother me, it only took two seconds. I actually really want to find a good facial recognition/tagging solution for my (thousands and thousands of untagged) photos, but if memory serves, the Picasa one wasn't very open, so not particularly good for using in other applications.


Since I don't keep any images in my desktop or user folders, I just had it scan those folders. Didn't bother me, it only took two seconds.

Well, not everyone is as lucky as you.

actually really want to find a good facial recognition/tagging solution for my (thousands and thousands of untagged) photos

I think you missed the point. It's about involuntarily being subjected to it.

That goes far beyond a mild complaint on a bad GUI. Did you miss the part where one has to literally force quit the Picasa app? Or, the part in their EULA where they can very well suck up that data without your knowledge?

For example, the Apple iPhoto app will first ask you where and when to scan folders only when you ask it to and can be canceled before it ever does it. iPhoto only performs facial recognition only when you ask it to and can be canceled before it ever does it. That kind of opt-in approach is not only a much better way to implement a user friendly approach to the interface, but is also a far more ethical approach to user privacy and safety.

Picasa tries to shove Google's tentacles down your throat. Screw that.


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