GCHQ has recently been accused of intercepting and storing millions of internet user’s webcam images. The British Intelligence Agency is accused of collaborating with the US National Security Agency to have operated a secret operation that’s been given the codename ‘Optic Nerve’. This project gathered data from millions of people between 2008 and 2010 that were not suspected of any wrongdoing.
In a one month period, more than 1.8 million Yahoo accounts were intercepted gathering vast qualities of material. What content they captured exactly is unknown, as well as knowing what nationality, sex or context the victims were in.
In a statement issued by GCHQ, “all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee”.
Optic Nerve started out as an experiment in 2008 to test automated facial recognition systems, monitor existing targets and locate suspects making use of multiple ID’s by taking snapshots of ‘unselected’ transmissions at random.