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Angry Birds

Angry Birds home pages have been hacked, two days after reports that the personal data of its customers might have been accessed by the NSA and British spy agency GCHQ, Rovio Entertainment Ltd. has announced.

Rovio spokeswoman says the hacking lasted a few minutes early Wednesday and that end-user data “was in no risk at any point”.

Angry Birds home pages have been hacked, two days after reports that the personal data of its customers might have been accessed by the NSA and GCHQ

Angry Birds home pages have been hacked, two days after reports that the personal data of its customers might have been accessed by the NSA and GCHQ

The hacking came after documents leaked by Edward Snowden suggested that the NSA and 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.

According to a new report, the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ routinely try to gain access to personal data from Angry Birds and other mobile applications.

A NSA document shows location, websites visited and contacts are among the data targeted from mobile applications.

It is the latest revelation from documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

In a statement, the NSA said it was not interested in data beyond “valid foreign intelligence targets”.

“Any implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is focused on the smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true,” the statement said.

The report, published by the New York Times, Pro Publica and the Guardian says the NSA and  GCHQ have worked together since 2007 to develop ways to gain access to information from applications for mobile phones and tablets.

The scale of data gathering is unclear.

But the reports suggest data is gained from a variety of mapping, gaming and social networking applications, using techniques similar to the ones used to intercept mobile internet traffic and text message data.

The documents also reveal the two agencies are increasingly convinced of the importance of mobile applications data.

The joint spying program “effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system” one 2008 document from the British intelligence agency is quoted as saying.

Another GCHQ report, in 2012, laid out how to extract information from Angry Birds user information from phones on the Android operating system. The game has been download 1.7 billion times across the world.

The NSA and GCHQ routinely try to gain access to personal data from Angry Birds and other mobile applications

The NSA and GCHQ routinely try to gain access to personal data from Angry Birds and other mobile applications

The GCHQ said it would not comment on intelligence matters, but insisted that all of its activities were “authorized, necessary and proportionate”.

Another NSA document described a “golden nugget” – a perfect scenario where NSA analysts could get broad selections of information from the applications, including networks the phone had connected to, documents downloaded, websites visited and “buddy lists”.

Other applications mentioned by the documents include the photo-sharing site Flickr, movie-based social network Flixster and applications that connect to Facebook.

Developers are responsible for the information generated from each application, but there was no suggestion firms were actively agreeing to give the spy agencies data.

On Monday, the justice department announced it had reached agreement with five major internet firms over their request to share information about how they responded to orders from the NSA and other agencies.

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn had previously sued the US government over being able to disclose to the public more information on what they have released to intelligence agencies.

Under the compromise announced, the firms will be able to release:

  • the number of criminal-related orders from the government
  • the number of secret national security-related orders from government investigators, rounded to the nearest thousand
  • how many national security-related orders came from the foreign service intelligence and the number of customers those orders affected
  • whether those orders were for just email addresses or covered additional information

As part of the deal, the firms will delay releases of the number of national security orders by six months and promise they cannot reveal government surveillance of new technology or forms of communications they create for two years.

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Freddie Mercury, the iconic Queen frontman, becomes an “honorary member of the Angry Birds family” on September 3.

Freddie For A Day and Rovio Entertainment have made a partnership to start the week in which the legendary singer’s memory is celebrated with Freddie For A Day on his birthday, September 5.

Freddie for a Day is such a great way to honor Freddie’s fun and flamboyant spirit while delivering an important message, and we’re delighted to be supporting them in our own Angry Birds style. Queen’s music has endured for a reason, because its creativity and contagious fun appeals to fans of all ages, and we’re happy to help keep Freddie’s memory and music alive for new generations of fans,” said Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio CMO.


Freddie Mercury as an Angry Birds character

Angry Birds join Freddie For A Day by releasing an animation of Freddie the Angry Bird.


The Finnish creators of Angry Birds release a video that presents an all-new animation of Freddie the Angry Bird, riding his bicycle to the track “Bicycle Race,” 1978 Queen hit.

The partnership includes also a limited-edition Freddie Mercury Angry Bird T-shirts, available at Angry Birds and Bravado web stores.

Tonight Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor are hosting a special Freddie For A Day fundraising evening in London at the Savoy.

This is the second year when friends, artists, celebrities are gathering to honor Freddie Mercury and raise funds for the Mercury Phoenix Trust – Fighting AIDS Worldwide.

Now into its third year, Freddie For A Day, is an annual event, created by Liz Swanton, the web editor of the Mercury Phoenix Trust. She raised over £1,200 by spending a working day dressed as Freddie. Note that she is a City of London Banker in real life.

Everyone who loves Freddie or who wants to help raising funds can be Freddie for a day. All they have to do is to decide what to wear: the famous moustache, aviator sunglasses, or a full sparkly body leotard. And the options do not end here.

Born Farrokh Bulsara on September 5, 1946, Freddie Mercury died on November 24, 1991, from AIDS complications.

His popularity has grown even more after his death and he is still honored around the world. Two of his songs, “We Are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody“, have been voted as the greatest song of all time in major polls by Sony Ericsson and Guinness World Records. At the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Queen‘s “We Will Rock You” with solo artist Jessie J was opened with a video of Freddie Mercury from 1986’s Wembley Stadium performance. The audience was full of enthusiasm.


Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury, the legendary Queen frontman. Two of his songs, We Are the Champions and Bohemian Rhapsody have been voted the greatest songs of all time.


The Mercury Phoenix Trust was founded in 1992 by Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor and Queen manager Jim Beach to distribute money raised from the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS awareness. According to their website, since then, the Trust has raised over $15 million to help in the fight against AIDS worldwide. www.mercuryphoenixtrust.com

 Angry Birds join Freddie For A Day by releasing an animation of Freddie the Angry Bird. (video)

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Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds video games, is launching Amazing Alex, its first new franchise since 2009.

Amazing Alex’s performance will be closely watched after the firm’s earlier series racked up more than one billion downloads.

Players must arrange objects on screen to create a chain reaction in which each piece of the puzzle has an effect on another until the goal is achieved.

Rovio might find it hard to repeat its previous success.

The launch was marred by a technical problem that caused error messages saying “this game is not recognized by the Game Center” to repeatedly appear on some users’ Apple devices.

Rovio is launching Amazing Alex, its first new franchise since 2009

Rovio is launching Amazing Alex, its first new franchise since 2009

Rovio said the problem was “frustrating” adding that it was trying to resolve the problem “as soon as possible” and suggested affected users should try to reboot their devices for a “temporary fix”.

Unlike Rovio’s other games, Amazing Alex began its life outside the Finnish firm.

It was originally known as Casey’s Contraptions, a physics-based game in which players had to help the lead character free his toys.

It was released in 2011 by Noel Llopis, a California-based independent game developer, and the Washington-headquartered games studio Mystery Coconut.

It received positive reviews which compared the tasks involved to the outlandish machines drawn by the cartoonist Heath Robinson and the ad-hoc inventions of the 1980s television show MacGyver.

However, the title never became a hit and the developers sold their intellectual property rights to Rovio earlier this year, following which it was removed from Apple’s iOS store.

Rovio has given the graphics and gameplay a tweak and has now re-released it on both the iOS and Android platforms.

The firm’s Twitter feed confirmed that versions for PCs, Macs and Windows Phone handsets would follow.

The company has tried to generate excitement for the release by featuring a prominent tease in its Angry Birds Seasons game which it offered as a free download to iPhone and iPad owners for a limited time.

However, one mobile games analyst said it was too soon to know if the move would pay off.

“It’s hard to know if they can bring their audience with them,” said Jack Kent from IHS Screen Digest.

“If you look at a company in the wider games business like Zynga, they have used core brands like CityVille to add players to their next games and have had some success in doing that.

“But on mobile it’s not as clear that Rovio will be able to do that, especially from a game like Angry Birds that doesn’t have the same social connections – it’s a casual game but you’re not necessarily connected via a wider social network.”

Rovio’s financial report for 2011 revealed it generated 75.4 million Euros ($92.3 million) from sales last year.

It said about 30% of that sum was derived from its own spin-off merchandise and licenses to third-parties for products including toys, clothes and themed play parks.

Jack Kent said Rovio’s expertise in this area meant similar efforts were likely to follow Amazing Alex if it proved popular.

But Rovio is not solely focusing its efforts on the new title.

It has told the gaming website IGN that it had teamed up with the publisher Activision to release its first three Angry Birds titles as a bundled package for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Nintendo 3DS later this year.

It said the versions for Sony and Microsoft’s devices could be controlled via the Move and Kinect motion sensors.

But they will face competition from other titles including Wreckateer which also plan to feature a similar dynamic.

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