webcam chat system, the classified files revealed by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and published by show.Up to 11 per cent of the images contained what agents called “undesirable nudity”, according to the documents.In yet another stunning revelation about digital espionage (though how stunned can we continue to be at this point), The Guardian reports that British surveillance organization GCHQ ran a program between 20 that collected images from Yahoo chat users’ webcams.The program managed to collect a high volume of webcam imagery, including sex chat content, from over 1.8 million global Yahoo users in a single six month period in 2008, the report claims.
The so-called ‘Optic Nerve’ program is detailed in GCHQ files that span between 20 leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and also reveal that the NSA benefitted from the program, and its research helped identify Yahoo webcam network activity, The Guardian reports.
The documents show the legal status of the system was discussed, particularly in relation to using automated facial matching to identify the people in the pictures.
“It was agreed that the legalities of such a capability would be considered once it had been developed, but that the general principle applied would be that if the accuracy of the algorithm was such that it was useful to the analyst,” one document from 2008 reads.
It is unclear exactly how much information was obtained using Optic Nerve.
However, in six months in 2008, images were obtained from more than 1.8 million Yahoo! Civil liberty campaigners expressed horror at the scale of the surveillance of people who were not suspected of a crime. , which said it had not been aware of the surveillance, said the revelations represented “a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy”.