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posted by girlwhowaspluggedout on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the and-this-one-goes-into-my-private-collection dept.

lhsi writes:

"The Guardian has revealed that GCHQ has been collecting the images of millions of Yahoo! webcam chat users, whether or not they were intelligence targets.

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'.

According to the documents provided by Edward Snowden, the system, called Optic Nerve, saved one image every five minutes from Yahoo! users' feeds. These users, the documents reveals, were 'unselected', i.e. indiscriminately targeted. GCHQ doesn't have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system."

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by thomasdotnet on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:13AM

    by thomasdotnet (1583) on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:13AM (#9420)

    1 image every 5 minutes from millions of users? I'm really curious how they will spin that as anti-terrorism. Honestly, I'm curious how they will spin it as anything other than "well, we learned that we COULD, so we DID." To quote a movie, "Uhhh, what is the practical application of this sir?"

    I'm sure they could dig up lots of blackmail material, but even that... it's not targeted. I could really understand their desire to do this in a targeted manor, but this is more like a proof of concept run amok.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:54AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @06:54AM (#9429)

      To quote a movie, "Uhhh, what is the practical application of this sir?"

      kiddy porn

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by frojack on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:10AM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:10AM (#9469) Journal

      Agreed, this is just totally whack!

      They have no way to know (allegedly) where the feeds are coming from or who is in them, but they are saving snaps every 5 minutes! To what end?

      Doing facial recognition hoping to find some terrorist they might recognize? (Cuz we all know terrorists love the yahoo).

      And failing any hits why do they still have all this data?

      They can do this, only because they are above the law.
      Black stickers on all my front facing cams. I never use them anyway, but I have no way of telling if someone else uses them.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mojo chan on Sunday March 02 2014, @11:11AM

      by mojo chan (266) on Sunday March 02 2014, @11:11AM (#9511)

      Targeting comes later. Need to blackmail someone? You have five years of Yahoo webcam images to mine for embarrassing pictures. Naturally they had to build in facial recognition to make searching easier, and create a massive database of innocent people's faces. I bet it's just like CSI where all the faces flash up needlessly as it searches, just to show how cool it.

      --
      const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Popeidol on Sunday March 02 2014, @07:24AM

    by Popeidol (35) on Sunday March 02 2014, @07:24AM (#9436) Journal

    They estimate 3% to 11% of the images they've collected contain 'undesirable nudity', the vagueness because they just ran all the pictures through algorithms that track the amount of visible flesh tones. The algorithms are most commonly used to assist police with investigating child porn: You confiscate a computer, run every single image on in through the script, and it'll present you with a shortlist of those that are most likely to be have nudity.

    This is an interesting link because, as it turns out, This revelation probably makes GCHQ the largest producer and collector of child pornography in the world. The sheer amount of data they're collecting makes this inevitable. Once the data has been stored (and apparently accessible to more than a few people), the chance those images could be made public in some way is real.

    There is no getting away from that fact: UK residents have been unknowingly funding government efforts to capture and store images of naked minors that would otherwise have been gone forever. I honestly can't think of much that would make this story any worse.

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by AnonTechie on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:07AM

      by AnonTechie (2275) on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:07AM (#9442) Journal

      They estimate 3% to 11% of the images they've collected contain 'undesirable nudity'

      What would be considered as DESIRABLE NUDITY ??

      --
      Albert Einstein - "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
      • (Score: 5, Funny) by Luke on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:26AM

        by Luke (175) on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:26AM (#9447)

        Obviously the remaining 89% to 97% of nude photos...

      • (Score: 1) by isostatic on Sunday March 02 2014, @12:19PM

        by isostatic (365) on Sunday March 02 2014, @12:19PM (#9550) Journal

        Natalie Portman, naked and petrified

    • (Score: 2) by Khyber on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:54AM

      by Khyber (54) on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:54AM (#9459) Journal

      Sounds like you were listening to me in the IRC chat. ;)

      And the NSA would be somewhat complicit in this, as well, which makes them equally guilty.

      --
      Destroying Semiconductors With Style Since 2008, and scaring you ill-educated fools since 2013.
    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:40AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:40AM (#9482) Journal

      I honestly can't think of much that would make this story any worse.

      Then you clearly lack imagination. What would make this story any worse would be if those images have actually been used. I can imagine that such images could come in handy for certain other activities. [soylentnews.org]

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 1) by Boxzy on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:22PM

        by Boxzy (742) on Sunday March 02 2014, @08:22PM (#9718) Journal

        There's only one reason to steal private pictures like this, and that's to use them. I'm willing to bet the GCHQ's online Misinformation dept HAS used them or why do it?

        --
        Go green, Go Soylent.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mojo chan on Sunday March 02 2014, @11:17AM

      by mojo chan (266) on Sunday March 02 2014, @11:17AM (#9514)

      I'm actually hoping that the images are made public. We need a wistleblower or hacker to get them out. I'm convinced that we need some kind of privacy apocalypse to make the general public take notice and demand action. The government losing million's of people's tax records or confidential NHS data doesn't seem to be enough. To be honest I'm not sure even this would be, people would just say "only losers use Yahoo video chat anyway" or some such nonsense. Like the people who dismiss Facebook users' expectation of basic privacy - we can feel smugly superior but that doesn't change the principals involved.

      I noticed that this was only a minor story on most news sites and programmes. A day later it was pushed aside by the convenient release of some pro-MI5 propaganda about how they had German spies working for them during WW2.

      --
      const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:00AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 02 2014, @09:00AM (#9464)
    Now they have millions of pictures of yahoo users.

    And someone will have to look thru and sort them.

    Couldn't pay me enough to do that...
    • (Score: 2, Funny) by jt on Sunday March 02 2014, @11:52AM

      by jt (2890) on Sunday March 02 2014, @11:52AM (#9533)

      If they start watching our webcams I think they will need to buy some more widescreen monitors.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by ticho on Sunday March 02 2014, @01:42PM

    by ticho (89) on Sunday March 02 2014, @01:42PM (#9591) Homepage Journal

    What are the chances that if they're doing this to yahoo, they're doing it to skype as well? I'd say somewhere upwards of 100%.

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:23PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:23PM (#9606) Journal

      What about the camera built into your newest smart TV?
      Can you even be sure that it doesn't record if your TV is "off"?

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 1) by sce7mjm on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:35PM

        by sce7mjm (809) on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:35PM (#9610)

        Insulating tape over the top.

        Don't help with the microphone, but I recon expanding (polyeurethene iirc) glue might help a little...

    • (Score: 1) by jt on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:34PM

      by jt (2890) on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:34PM (#9609)

      100% would be my guess. And every other communication service too. Still, nice to know that at least one part of the government is listening to us.

      • (Score: 2) by ticho on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:06PM

        by ticho (89) on Sunday March 02 2014, @05:06PM (#9656) Homepage Journal

        Indeed - this is why I'm waiting/hoping for Tox [tox.im] to become more widely used.

  • (Score: 0) by sce7mjm on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:30PM

    by sce7mjm (809) on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:30PM (#9608)

    Why do we trust Yahoo Facebook Google etc... at all.

    People think that it is perfectly acceptable and safe to wave ones saggy fleshy bits in front of a camera, which is taking images and sending them via a profit making business which has means of identifying you, your home, your bank accounts and easily every member (sic) of your family, to some known or unknown recipient.

    As soon as it turns out that GCHQ for whatever motive is seeing some of these images and everybody is horrified!!! What?!!!!

    Just because we've signed (ticked the box) some bullshit usage agreement and privacy statement (which we didn't read properly anyway) we think in someway we are protected from misuse.

    There is a simple answer to this.

    STOP WAVING YOUR COCK AT YOUR LAPTOP.

  • (Score: 1) by jt on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:38PM

    by jt (2890) on Sunday March 02 2014, @02:38PM (#9611)

    If you're worried, of course, then all you need is one pair of wirecutters to smash the camera lens and snip the microphone wires in your computer. You should also cut all radio antennae, and pull all the wires from the walls. Perhaps cut the speaker wires too in case these are being used for covert ultrasonic exfil, and maybe cut the monitor wires to prevent tempest. Don't use the keyboard in case someone is listening to the distinctive sound of each key, and of course don't use the CPU which leaks information as audio about the code it is executing.