Millions of Yahoo webcam users have had their images intercepted and stored in bulk by Britainâ€™s GCHQ agency during the surveillance program dubbed Optic Nerve, according to The Guardian. The NSA aided the interception and storing of millions webcam images, the secret documents show
The Optic Nerve program is alleged to have started in 2008 and collected Yahoo webcam images from more than 1.8 million users in a six-month period alone.
“A report on the development of OPTIC Nerve – a web interface to display Yahoo Webcam images sampled from unselected intercept and a system for proportionate target discovery,” said the report.
Apparently analysts were limited to metadata of the interceptions, meaning a restricted access to bulk data. Yet analysts were able to see the faces of people with usernames that were similar to the surveillance target, possibly dragging in innocent people.
Also, about 7 per cent of images displayed nudity or pornographic content.
Yahoo denied knowledge of the program and reacted furiously when hearing about it, denouncing GCHQâ€™s program as: â€œa whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy.â€