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.'