PhotoThe latest news story on the theme “Ways the NSA uses Americans' technology to spy on them” involves Google Maps and Angry Birds --specifically, the smartphone-app versions.

But Rovio, the company behind “Angry Birds,” responded to the news by blaming unnamed “third-party advertising networks” for supposedly letting “leaky data” escape for the NSA to collect.

Blaming a third party is a common technique among companies who have been embarrassed by revelations that hackers managed to breach their customer databases. For example: in 2011, when eHarmony got hacked, the Register (UK) noted that “[eHarmony’s chief technology officer Joseph] Essas blamed third party libraries that eHarmony used for content management.”

A 2012 post from the Destructoid tech blog discussing hacking problems with Xbox Live summarized various complaints before noting “Microsoft has indeed tried to blame a variety of third-party services.” Of course, the “hackers” in the latest Angry Birds/Google Maps security breaches also happen to be official U.S. government agents, so it probably makes good protective sense for Rovio to blame NSA spying on third-party advertising networks rather than, say, the NSA itself.

In the pre-Internet pre-smartphone days, if anybody complained “The feds are monitoring my communications and tracking my every move,” advising the complainant to line his hat with tinfoil usually did the trick. Unfortunately, wrapping your smartphone in tinfoil won't work and can actually damage the phone.


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