The GCHQ, Britain’s spy agency, intercepted webcam images of millions of Yahoo users, it has emerged in a Guardian report.
According to secret documents, the GCHQ program Optic Nerve saved one still image every five minutes from Yahoo users that were not suspected of wrongdoing between 2008 and 2010.
In an email statement to AFP, a Yahoo spokeswoman announced that “We were not aware of nor would we condone this reported activity.”
Many of the images are described to be of a sexually intimate nature.
The documents note that the program attempted to use “naïve” pornography detectors to screen sexual content from its staff.
However its technique of detecting human skin resulted in a high rate of false positives. This led the surveillance agency to filter out any images without faces in an effort to prevent pornographic images from being monitored.
The documents obtained by the Guardian make no reference to court orders allowing the interception of Yahoo’s webcam imagery.