The documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, indicate the companies have been trading recipes since 2007 for grabbing location and planning data from Google Maps, and for obtaining address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone posts via the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.
The eavesdroppers’ pursuit of mobile networks has been outlined in earlier reports, but the secret documents, shared by The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica, offer far more details of their ambitions for smartphones and the apps that run on them. The efforts were part of an initiative called “the mobile surge,” according to a 2011 British document, an analogy to the troop surges in Iraq and Afghanistan. One N.S.A. analyst’s enthusiasm was evident in the breathless title — “Golden Nugget!” — given to one slide for a top-secret 2010 talk describing iPhones and Android phones as rich resources, one document notes.
Given previous leaks, the revelation is hardly a surprise. Unfortunately, the scale and the specifics of the data haul are not yet clear.
Notably, just a few days ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook told customers that "The government doesn't have access to our servers. They would have to cart us out in a box for that, and that just will not happen."