Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency reportedly intercepted Yahoo webcam images

Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency reportedly intercepted Yahoo webcam images

According to a recent report in UK-based Guardian newspaper, a surveillance effort operated by Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) involved the interception of Yahoo webcam images from millions of Yahoo users.

Revealing that GCHQ spied on people using Yahoo webcam chats, the Guardian report - based on accounts of documents leaked by former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden - said that most of the Yahoo webcam images collected by GCHQ were sexually explicit; and involved millions of Yahoo users, irrespective of whether or not they were suspected of unlawful activity.

Noting that the Yahoo webcam images were intercepted by GCHQ under a program called 'Optic Nerve,' the Guardian report revealed that webcam images of millions of Internet users were collected and stored by GCHQ with help from NSA. The images were captured in bulk via GCHQ's fiber-optic cable taps and saved to a database of the intelligence agency.

It is not yet clear how much of the data collected and stored by GCHQ was shared with NSA officials. Moreover, there is also no clarity about whether GCHQ collected webcam images from services other than Yahoo, such as Google Hangouts or Microsoft's Skype.

Meanwhile, expressing outrage at the Guardian's report, Yahoo said in a Thursday statement: "This report, if true, represents a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy that is completely unacceptable, and we strongly call on the world's governments to reform surveillance law consistent with the principles we outlined in December."

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