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In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency reportedly amassed webcam images from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts worldwide.
According to the documents, between 3 and 11 percent of the Yahoo webcam images contained what the called “undesirable nudity.” The program was reportedly also used for experiments in “automated facial recognition” as well as to monitor terrorism suspects.
It’s essentially—they were actually complaining at length in the documents about just how many of these images were sexually explicit.
We speak with James Ball, one of the reporters who broke the story.
He is the special projects editor for Guardian US., may have peered into the lives of millions of Internet users who were not suspected of wrongdoing.
A surveillance program codenamed “Optic Nerve” compiled still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and stored them in GCHQ’s databases with help from the .
The program was reportedly used for experiments in “automated facial recognition” as well as to monitor terrorism suspects.
That seems to have been legally compelled at least; they weren’t voluntarily handing it over.
But it does seem as if they helped build automated or semi-automated systems to make it easy.
I think the big questions have to be asked for the cable companies, and, you know, whether the ones who put—pipe the Internet into our house or the industrial ones. We know from documents that they really do a lot to help the cable-tapping operations that power all of these other programs.
And if I was really looking to ask companies questions about secret deals and who’s getting cash and who might be not just doing what they have to, but a bit further, it’s the cable companies I’d be asking.
: So they had a couple of tricks with facial recognition.
One of the things that they tried to do was just to see if there was a face in the image, so telling a face from an elbow.
They’re warned, “Hey, you know, if you don’t want to see something nasty, don’t use this database.” But I think it kind of shows how concerning it is.