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GCHQ intercepts Yahoo webcam images of Internet users|
Britain’s domestic spying apparatus, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has been mired in a fresh scandal over its harvesting of webcam images.
The scandal exposed in formerly secret documents published by the Guardian on Thursday, involves a scheme, in which the GCHQ has intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of Internet users with the help of the US National Security Agency (NSA).
According to the paper, GCHQ documents explicitly show the extent of the spying program, known as Optic Nerve, based on which still images of Yahoo webcam chats, used to be collected en masse and saved to the agency’s databases irrespective of the fact that whether individual users were suspected of any wrongdoing.
The scheme is said to have targeted over 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts from across the globe in just one six-month period in 2008. The disclosed files were for the period between 2008 and 2010.
"Face detection has the potential to aid selection of useful images for 'mug shots' or even for face recognition by assessing the angle of the face," reads one document, adding, "The best images are ones where the person is facing the camera with their face upright."According to the documents, the spying agency claims it had launched bulk surveillance on Yahoo users because "Yahoo webcam is known to be used by GCHQ targets."
The Internet giant, Yahoo, has severely reacted to the news, accusing the GCHQ of a new round of violation of users' privacy.