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The UK intelligence agency GCHQ started slurping photos from innocent netizens' camera feeds in 2008, The Guardian reported today.
This report, if true, represents a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy that is completely unacceptable, and we strongly call on the world’s governments to reform surveillance law consistent with the principles we outlined in December," Yahoo! "We are committed to preserving our users' trust and security and continue our efforts to expand encryption across all of our services." The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was rather annoyed as well, with staff attorney Alex Abdo saying in a statement: "This is a truly shocking revelation that underscores the importance of the debate on privacy now taking place and the reforms being considered.
In a world in which there is no technological barrier to pervasive surveillance, the scope of the government’s surveillance activities must be decided by the public, not secretive spy agencies interpreting secret legal authorities." Writing on his personal Twitter feed, Christopher Soghoian, a principal technologist at the ACLU, said: "Save at least some of your outrage for Yahoo, which didn't care about users enough to encrypt their webcam traffic. "It doesn't take a genius to know that webcam chats are used for sensitive (read: sexual) content.
webcam pics contained "undesirable nudity." Although Yahoo!
's instant messaging service uses SSL to encrypt passwords when logging in, it does not prevent network eavesdroppers from intercepting, decoding and storing text messages and live webcam feeds between contacts.
It's alleged GCHQ grabbed stills from active cam chat sessions every five minutes – regardless of whether the users were suspected of any wrongdoing. it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person," GCHQ wrote in a document leaked by ex-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to the newspaper."Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography." The spy agency did try to protect the delicate sensibilities of its staff, with a handbook note stating: "There is no perfect ability to censor material which may be offensive.