The web site of Angry Birds app maker Rovio has been hacked two days after reports that the personal data of its customers might have been accessed by U.S. and British spy agencies.
Rovio spokeswoman says the hacking lasted a few minutes early Wednesday and that end-user data 'was in no risk at any point.'
The hacking came after documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden suggested that the NSA and Britain's GCHQ had been able to extract information through a host of smartphone apps across the globe, including the Angry Birds game franchise.
Rovio has denied the claims, saying it does not "share data, collaborate or collude" with any spy agencies and that it would re-evaluate third-party advertising networks.
'Our fans’ trust is the most important thing for us and we take privacy extremely seriously,' said Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio Entertainment.
'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.'
Popular smartphone apps such as Angry Birds and Google Maps are being used to secretly collect personal data on their users, it has been claimed.
According to documents provided by Edward Snowden, location-sharing apps like Facebook, Flickr and Twitter have also been implicated, sharing data with the National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain's Government Communications Headquarter (GCHQ).
It is claimed the system has been in place since 2007, and also uses apps to gain access to address books and friend lists.
Developers today slammed the move as 'unacceptable.
'Uninhibited collection of consumers’ personal data by governments hacking into apps is unacceptabl,' said the App Developers Alliance President Jon Potter.
'Developers are surprised and disappointed to learn that personal information entrusted to them by users has been secretly collected and stored,'
'Consumer trust is paramount in the app industry.
'This surveillance damages our entire industry and undermines the hard work of app developer entrepreneurs everywhere.'
The latest claims have been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, and ProPublica.
The efforts were part of an initiative called 'the mobile surge,' according to a 2011 British document seen by the New York Times, an analogy to the troop surges in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It says 'One N.S.A. analyst’s enthusiasm was evident in the breathless title — “Golden Nugget!” — given to one slide for a top-secret 2010 talk describing iPhones and Android phones as rich resources.'
The top-secret flow charts produced by the British agency in 2012 reveal incoming streams of information taken from from smartphone traffic by the Americans and the British.
The streams are divided into 'traditional telephony', and others marked 'social apps,' 'geo apps,' “http linking,' webmail, MMS and traffic associated with mobile ads, among others.
It is believed the mobile app initiative between the two spy agencies has been up and running since 2007, the year the NSA saw its budget balloon from $204 million to $767 million.
It is not yet known whether any mobile app companies, like Angry Birds-creator Rovio, were aware of the operation.
'Nothing in the secret reports indicates that the companies cooperate with the spy agencies to share the information; the topic is not addressed,' The New York Times reports.
'Rovio doesn't have any previous knowledge of this matter, and have not been aware of such activity in 3rd party advertising networks,' Saara Bergström, Rovio's VP of marketing and communications, told The Guardian.
'Nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mentioned [NSA and GCHQ].'