The NSA Playset is trying to democratize surveillance using the aesthetic of child’s play

Would that surveillance practices were reversible: we’d have a solution to the past decade’s revelations on our hands. But they aren’t and we don’t. Surveillance is more than a series of practices; it is a force with a momentum of its own and the turning radius of a cruise ship. Consequently, the democratization of surveillance takes on some funny forms, one of which is Michael Ossman’s NSA Playset project. Inspired by the NSA’s ANT Catalog, which was published by Der Spiegel in 2013 and described a variety of surveillance tools, Ossman invited security researchers to make their own versions of…


The NSA is watching you through Angry Birds

The NSA and its British chums across the pond have been using a backdoor in ad-supported mobile apps—specifically, Angry Birds—to mine sensitive data, according to The New York Times. This includes Google Map locations, websites visited, and buddy lists, according to newly declassified documents leaked to the press by Edward Snowden. And you thought you were just flicking a peeved canary dressed as Obi-Wan into a very flimsy Deathstar. It sucks that government snooping has tainted the beautiful thing that is free mobile games, but it’s not unprecedented. We already knew that the NSA had spies inside of World of…


Maybe the guy who founded Zynga isn’t so bad after all

The other day I questioned what good could come from President Obama inviting the founder of Zynga to the Oval Office for a chat about national security. I think the sentiment was something to the effect of: what the eff?  Well, it turns out Mark Pincus of Zynga made a bold and populist contribution at the meeting. CNN reports that he asked the President that Edward Snowden should be pardoned. Snowden, of course, is the NSA employee who leaked information that the government was involved in massive snooping. Naturally, the President shot him down, presumably because he makes social games.…