British spy agency GCHQ has reportedly harvested webcam images, including sexually explicit material, of millions of internet users.
Dating between 20, the GCHQ files reportedly show in one six-month period alone, the agency collected webcam imagery, including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications, from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.
Optic Nerve began as a prototype in 2008 and was still active in 2012, The Guardian said.
First of all, it's important to clarify that the GCHQ is not accused of hacking into computers and intercepting webcam feeds directly from the machines of Yahoo users, like hackers can by installing RAT (Remote Access Tool) malware on a victim's laptop or PC.
Furthermore, the GCHQ did not need Yahoo's cooperation to execute its webcam spying project.
A Yahoo spokeswoman said: "We were not aware of, nor would we condone, this reported activity."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.
"We are committed to preserving our users' trust and security and continue our efforts to expand encryption across all of our services."GCHQ declined to comment on the claims.
Revealing that sexually explicit pictures proved to be a problem for GCHQ, the leaked document said: "Unfortunately...
it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person.
The method the GCHQ reportedly used was to tap directly into fiber optic cables passing through the UK to collect one image of a Yahoo user using their webcams every five minutes, as part of its Project Tempora, according to .
Thanks to this program, the GCHQ has reportedly been able to collect vast amounts of Internet data, without having to ask anyone for permission.
The operation allegedly took place between 20 and during one six month period more than 1.8million Yahoo users were targeted.