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Ear to the Ground

British Spies Intercepted User Webcam Images

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Posted on Feb 27, 2014

dgbury (CC BY 2.0)

Secret documents reveal that British surveillance agency GCHQ and the U.S. National Security Agency collected and kept the webcam images of millions of Internet users who were suspected of no wrongdoing.

The Guardian reports:

GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.

In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.

Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of “a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy”.

Read more here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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