Friday, February 28, 2014

Big Brother Is Watching You

Ordinarily I would avoid a post title quite so melodramatic on the grounds that it exaggerates what is really going on. Not this time.

From Jon Queally at Common Dreams, we learn that GCHQ, with the knowledge and/or assistance of the NSA, is hacking into the webcam chats of "millions" of unknowing users... without a warrant, without even reasonable suspicion that those people are involved in crime, let alone terrorism or other national security issues.

From Queally:

The latest documents leaked to journalists by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and published Thursday in the Guardian newspaper reveal that the British GCHQ spy agency—with possible assistance from its U.S. counterpart—built and maintained a program that allowed it to tap the live webcam chats of millions of internet users with no connection to criminal or national security investigations.

With a program codenamed "Optic Nerve," the documents reveal how the agency hacked into the camera feeds of those using Yahoo! webchats, capturing both snapshots of conversations and metadata associated with the communication. As its name indicates, at least part of the program was aimed at improving the government's ability to use digital eye-recognition technology to detect and catalog online users that may or may be not be part of a criminal investigation.


And yes, of course, many of the images (stills, snapped from webcams used in Yahoo! chats, saved to a GCHQ database) are sexually explicit. You expected otherwise?

Based on what is known, and what the program is called, I'd say they've got a lot of damned Optic Nerve...

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