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Optic Nerve: Some Nerve

Written By : Dave Blount
February 28, 2014

Are you one of the millions who own a device with a webcam? Then the NSA and its British sister GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) may be doing more than monitoring your phone calls and emails; they may be watching you:

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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 of Yahoo 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.

One advantage of working with British colleagues is that it allows the NSA to circumvent what’s left of the Fourth Amendment:

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.

Your webcam is Big Government’s telescreen.

big-brother-is-watching-you

On a tip from Xavier. Cross-posted at Moonbattery.

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