Tech groups: Spying on apps ‘unacceptable’

Groups representing mobile app developers are denouncing the U.S. government for using mobile apps to spy on users.

On Monday, The GuardianThe New York Times and ProPublica reported that the National Security Agency can collect data about people through the apps they use, including popular mobile game Angry Birds.

The agency can reportedly collect sensitive information such as age, gender and location — data usually collected by the apps for marketing purposes.

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Tech groups representing app developers criticized the spying programs and said the government is eroding user trust in their products.

“Uninhibited collection of consumers’ personal data by governments hacking into apps is unacceptable,” Application Developer Alliance President Jon Potter said in a statement.

Potter’s group includes more than 30,000 app developers and 150 tech companies, including Google, Intel and Samsung. 

“Consumer trust is paramount in the app industry,” he said. “This surveillance damages our entire industry and undermines the hard work of app developer entrepreneurs everywhere.”

In a statement, Morgan Reed, executive director of the Association for Competitive Technology, said government surveillance of mobile app data “undermines the trust our industry needs to succeed.”

Reed’s group represents more than 5,000 app developers and tech companies and is supported by tech giants including Microsoft, Facebook and Verizon. 

Reed stressed the passive role of the app developers in these spying programs.

“The developers aren’t giving [the data] to [the intelligence agencies]. They’re taking it,” he told The Hill. “There’s absolutely nothing that the developers can do.”

The latest report on NSA surveillance highlights the need for encryption of data, Reed said. “We need the ability to protect our data”

He called on the Obama administration to rein in the sweeping surveillance programs and collect only the necessary data. 

“The administration needs to step to the fore” on this issue, he said. “ 'We want it all' isn’t an adequate answer.”