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.
Regarding the explicit material, the documents show that between 3 and 11 percent of all imagery collected contained so-called “undesirable nudity,” and that filtering out said material posed a problem.
Tools designed to remove images based on how much flesh was visible were throwing out too many non-nude face shots, so instead a system was implemented to ignore images that contained no recognizable faces.
Imagery was saved from webcam feeds only once every five minutes, in an effort to avoid violating human rights laws and to minimize server load, The GCHQ, however, isn’t technically able to make sure no UK or US resident images are collected and stores, and UK law doesn’t prevent specific imagery of individuals from partner nations including Australia, New Zealand and Canada being accessed by individual analysts at any time.
Yahoo strongly denies any prior knowledge of the existence of the program, according to The Guardian, and in fact was characterized as being outraged with the fresh reports of violations of its customers’ privacy.
Yahoo and other tech companies have called for more transparency from government surveillance agencies about their espionage activities.
British spies allegedly intercepted and stored nude pics and other stills from millions of Yahoo!Messenger webcams – and mulled capturing snaps from the XBox's Kinect camera, too.The UK intelligence agency GCHQ started slurping photos from innocent netizens' camera feeds in 2008, The Guardian reported today.In just one six-month period alone, pics from 1.8 million Yahoo! Blighty's hush-hush nerve-center was also said to have explored the possibility of intercepting footage from the Kinect camera for Microsoft's Xbox 360 games console as it generated "fairly normal webcam traffic." We're told the British g-men made an unfortunate discovery while allegedly harvesting the snaps: between three and 11 per cent of the obtained Yahoo!webcam pics contained "undesirable nudity." Although Yahoo!'s instant messaging service uses SSL to encrypt passwords when logging in, it does not prevent network eavesdroppers from intercepting, decoding and storing text messages and live webcam feeds between contacts.