'BADASS' surveillance program let British, Canadian governments spy on smartphones

More information about government surveillance has come to light, and it seems that the British and Canadian governments apparently used special software filters to acquire sensitive smartphone user data from the servers of a number of advertising and analytics companies. The program, called BADASS, gathered unencrypted data sent to the companies from mobile devices, including those running Windows Phone The data collected by these companies can give whoever is looking at it a lot of information about individual users.

From The Intercept:

Programmers frequently embed code from a handful of such companies into their smartphone apps because it helps them answer a variety of questions: How often does a particular user open the app, and at what time of day? Where does the user live? Where does the user work? Where is the user right now? What's the phone's unique identifier? What version of Android or iOS is the device running? What's the user's IP address? Answers to those questions guide app upgrades and help target advertisements, benefits that help explain why tracking users is not only routine in the tech industry but also considered a best practice.

You can read the full story at The Intercept.

Source: The Intercept

Joseph Keller
  • "What version of iOS or Android were they using" - So are we in the clear hahahah ?
  • Where can I get the app from? I want to spy my girlfriend!!
  • If you have to worry, then get rid of her. No way to spend your life.
  • Hahaha even the government won't make apps to spy on us!
  • The article notes that Windows Phone users were included. The quote from "The Intercept" (whoever they are) simply didn't acknowledge it.
  • Please developer do not run it Just for WindowsPhone please
  • "The program, called BADASS, gathered unencrypted data sent to the companies from mobile devices, including those running Windows Phone"   Too late...
  • We got a BADASS over there in the UK and Canada
  • Classic example of overcompensation;) #needamagnifingglass lol
  • I thought Canada was involved in international affairs only in the Olympics. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for QWBASIC :|
  • which calender software is shown in the picture.
  • Looks like Cal
  • Yeah! You are right dude
  • Check your Instagram.
  • Better spying acronym than PRISM.
  • Not to give the nsa ANY props but i think code name PRISM is epic:p for some reason america does 007 better than UK lol
  • Stfu =)
  • FU :p
  • Nothing like feeding the paranoiacs eh?
  • Alas, their fears become of a less paranoid nature when they are confirmed by otherwise troubling information like this.
  • Since you're not concerned, just send us all your bank account information right now.
  • I hate the direction computing has taken.
  • Me too. Thanks, Google.
  • ... You mean Thanks Apple right? They started it. Google refused to give any info to the government...
  • Then I guess you missed the story this week where people discovered that Google has been handing their emails to the government without those people's knowledge. And the story a while back about the servers in Ireland where Google won't support users' privacy against unlawful government intrusion.
  • It's OK to blame Google and Apple both, the trend towards cloud computing, and the consumerization of IT. I do believe it was Google that started the intrusion into mailboxes trend for the sake of their advertising revenue, but their users - ignorant cheapskates - allow it to happen and also deserve some of the blame.
  • Analytics is a double edge sword, as it can be used both ways. If anyone thought otherwise is beyond naive lol.
  • This is the argument that is leveled against Google; and rightfully so. They might not have any necessarily nefarious purpose in mind when they log every bit of information they can about users, but who is to say that some who does have a nefarious purpose isn't going to steal it?
  • What, like perhaps acquiring damaging information about a legislator or his family to "pressure" that person into voting a certain way on legislation? Or a judge? Or perhaps a Supreme Court justice?
  • or....Batman or Superman......
  • Many of us are immigrants from countries where this sort of thing is all too familiar, or from Chicago. The same thing happened to the people in those areas. They were in denial until it was too late. Businesses also end up under the same threat if they don't support those in power.
  • "or from Chicago" .... Nice
  • Perhaps people would need to be from there and involved there too fully understand it.
  • You're probably right. It is difficult to get people, myself included, to understand the value of privacy unless they can be shown a concrete example of why this type of thing can be dangerous.
  • Ah, the good old days when you could just use a baseball bat to persuade someone to conform. Now its just use their data, same old, just a new technique lol
  • So it seems that this data was going to third party advertising companies anyway and the govts were just eavesdropping. I am more concerned with the advertisers having access to this data (and their motives) than the spy agencies.
  • The advertiser would not put you into prison for being gay. Or muslim. Or EFF member.
  • Neither does my government
  • Not yet!
  • I really dint mind being spied on only if its to stop the mussies attacking people and setting bombs off. But that is the only scenario I wish to be spied on. .
  • Really?! I wouldn't want a stranger to look through all my pictures, my text messages and private documents on my phone, that's none of their business!
  • Well we have a prime example of the governments most wanted citizen here. Dont question anything they do. just follow them like a lemming
  • Perhaps if you evil blood thirsty buggers stopped invading their countries, undermining their aspirations and murdering their families and children perhaps the 'mussies' wouldn't need to set bombs off... And you didn't need to live in a draconian police state.... Hey... Imagine that!!! U can have your cake and eat it too. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • There country they can do what they want for all I care. But they wont get away with it in Belfast. They have met there match. They will want to go back home by the time were finished. Marrying kids. Dirty bastards.
  • No you guys are the dirty blood thirsty bastards.... Tell NATO to get the hell out of other countries and end their occupation. That's some smart talk coming from a limey who lives in a tiny shithole of an island. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • The Nazi military was good. When they went into a country, they got the job done. Gotta give em that. I'm not condoning mass murder, that part was more than wrong. I'm just saying they took the gloves off to fight, and didn't tie their own hands.
  • We look after are own here
  • You watch Fox or BBC a lot. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for QWBASIC :|
  • Way to follow exactly what you were told to follow. You seriously think your 2 AM drunk sexting to your ex is going to stop a terrorist? 
  • You shouldn't be sexting in the first place
  • Well thanks Microsoft
  • Another example of essential liberty given freely for the illusion of safety.
  • That. But what's really stupid is people agreeing with this.
  • Only spy agencies seem to have a genuine interest in Windows Phones
  • That there is funny.
  • Western countries spy and monitor their citizens all the time... While constantly barking about freedom and privacy. Yet they their a fit when a similar story is reported about a country like China. That is just pathetic hypocrisy. China had ever right to install special software on their PCs so that they can protect their citizens from the sinister prying eyes of the western regimes. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • O yes we evil westerners do nothing all day and night but worry about spying on other countries porn habits. Grow up kid.
  • By Western countries he meant western governments not the regular public. You regular public are great until you become politicians. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for QWBASIC :|
  • 32 New items in the Me tile. I never see that notification.
  • No real surprise here.  Governments have been keeping tabs on people since there have been a such thing as government. This is just another tool that serves the same purpose.  The US has NSA, Canada and the Brits have BadAss.
  • As simple as that really. Guess those most vociferous have something to hide, maybe, idk.
  • Badass and bad brains
  • Yeah like those bitches care
  • Forget BADASS. If you are using portable devices and cloud services for anything incriminating or embarrassing and you think your data is private, the correct term is DUMBASS.
  • Lol, +1
  • lol +2
  • Haha, +3.
  • Sn0wden would agree... Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for QWBASIC :|
  • It did state unencrypted data. What if you run on VPN.
  • Is a canadian boss wondering what OS is his employer using?
    Is he checking if Martin the janitor updates his phone?
    They are spying idiots, everybody wants da powa above everybody.
    I would have gone in instance if I we're the one spyed.
  • Sounds truly Badass. 
  • Edit. Posted to wrong location. Removed .
  • "It seems"... "Apparently"... Joseph, don't spread something you're not sure of. Windows Central guys never do.
  • Thanks for the heads-up, I was just about to plan a mass-casualty event using HERE maps!
  • Funny... People don't care about being spied on or tracked by the government,, just go along with it and put down those who do care. Just goes to show you all no os is safe.....and neither are you . So if and when you get fed up with it, just remember that they know everything about you, where you have gone, everything you have done including your banking so forget about hiding if you need to. So just go along to get along Cry me a river if you want but then build me bridge to get over it... Posted from my HTC M8
  • Generally, people just don't care about negative things until they actually FEEL that they are being negatively affected. I would guess that 90% of the general populous have never heard of "mindfulness".... "The public" are just a bunch of self absorbed people not giving a damn about how others are affected by different scenarios.
  • BADASS: British Anti Democratic Advocate of Stupidity System?
  • Pow
  • Go ahead spy on me, you'll be bored!!
  • Ask and you shall receive. I hate when they are stealing stuffs away from me.
    I'm doing away with all the app with add on the
    1. Accuweather
    2. Weather premium
    3. 9coupon
    Any app that is pro shouldn't have ads on them nor app that offer no options to remove ads
  • Oh no. Now they know which porn sites I go to. What should I do?
  • This program sounds BADASS
  • I wonder which government official was just waiting for a chance to name a program that had an acronym of 'BADASS' LOL
  • Hahaha, perfect example of why I hate them "personalized ads". AdBlock and Ghostery all the way. Unfortunately, we'll still be having idiots saying, "I have nothing to hide" until they become a victim.