Per The Guardian’s bombshell this morning detailing how Britain’s surveillance agency, the GCHQ, with the help of the NSA, collected millions of webcam images from millions of non-suspect Yahoo account holders- globally. The program, which was detailed to The Guardian by one Edward Snowden, was dubbed “Optic Nerve” and used for “experiments in automated facial recognition, to monitor GCHQ’s existing targets, and to discover new targets of interest”. One problem with sifting through millions of webcam images? A lot of people aren’t using Yahoo’s webchat for just chatting:
Sexually explicit webcam material proved to be a particular problem for GCHQ, as one document delicately put it: “Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person. 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 document estimates that between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains “undesirable nudity”. Discussing efforts to make the interface “safer to use”, it noted that current “naïve” pornography detectors assessed the amount of flesh in any given shot, and so attracted lots of false positives by incorrectly tagging shots of people’s faces as pornography.
[Spencer Ackerman and James Ball | The Guardian]((http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/27/gchq-nsa-webcam-images-internet-yahoo)
For an “intelligence agency” you’d think it wouldn’t be all too surprising that “people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person”. I’m sort of surprised that percentages were so low.