British spy agency collected nude webcam screenshots

The Guardian drops a new bombshell from the Edward Snowden leaked document stash. A program called Optic Nerve secretly collected millions of screenshots from Yahoo webcam chats.

The rationale was that “Yahoo webcam is known to be used by GCHQ targets”, but the program took screenshots in bulk from everyone, intelligence “targets” or criminal suspects or not.

Among other findings, intelligence analysts discovered that webcam chatters like to get naked.

Unfortunately, there are issues with undesirable images within the data. 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.

A random sampling found that 7% “of those images contained undesirable nudity”.

The mystery here is that anyone would find this trend “surprising”. Had anyone in British intelligence ever visited the Internet before embarking on this project?

For that matter, why should anyone consider webcam nudity “unfortunate” or “undesirable”? Butt out, bureaucratic voyeuristic prudes. Looking at naked people is no more unfortunate than looking at funny cats, checking sports scores, reading celebrity gossip, arguing about politics or any of the myriad pointless shit people do online.