GCHQ collected, stored webcams of 1.8 million users during a six-month period in 2008 /Guardian

This article is also based on documents from the Guardian’s Snowden cache.

How can people believe that NSA, GCHQ and their ilk are not storing all phone calls (full audio files, not just metadata) when it takes so much more storage to college webcam information?

Let’s get real.  Every digital signature you have left during the last many years (five? ten?  fifteen?) has been collected, possibly reviewed, but is definitely in storage, awaiting a time it might be useful.  That is why NSA’s Bluffdale facility was built:  to store this and so much more in future.

Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.

GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images ofYahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.

 In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.

 Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of “a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy“.

 GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans’ images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant.

 The documents also chronicle GCHQ‘s sustained struggle to keep the large store of sexually explicit imagery collected by Optic Nerve away from the eyes of its staff, though there is little discussion about the privacy implications of storing this material in the first place.

Here’s the thing.  They spied on anyone, random people, to supposedly test the system. Or because they do spy on everyone. Hey there squeaky clean, that means you, too. From Time:

According to the documents, the British spy agency  GCHQ snooped on “unselected” Yahoo users—that is, people who were spied on at random regardless of whether or not they were suspected of any wrongdoing—during webcam chats and took millions of still shots at five-minute intervals. 

From CNN:

The GCHQ estimated that up to 11% of the digital images it collected from the webcam chats were explicit, the Guardian reported, citing the leaked documents.

Eleven per cent????!!!!


What has not been made clear from media reports is whether snapshots were being taken when people were not using their webcams.  NSA has been alleged to have the ability to view us through the computer’s internal camera when we believe the camera is “off “.  


If GCHQ and NSA are taking shots at random through your computer, and your computer is in the bedroom, it would explain why so much nudity and sexually explicit material was being caught.

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