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British spies capture millions of images from Yahoo! users

Yahoo trade-show display in London
Yahoo trade-show display in London

Say, did you know the bloody Brits were checking out the physical assets and chatlines of millions of unsuspecting Yahoo! users?

Well, you ought to know that the British spy agency (GCHQ) has captured millions of images from the webcams of unsuspecting blokes and lasses who use Yahoo! It’s beyond dodgy and the whole lot of gormless duffers at GCHQ need to get on a bike.

There’s little doubt that lot of gobsmacked British agents performed their version of the Yahoo! yodel while recording millions of images and copying chats from boudoirs, conference rooms and government office webcams. We’re talking about millions of breeches.

Of course Yahoo denies any prior knowledge of British peeking toms invading the privacy of its users. The Internet provider said in a statement that the British spying was a "completely unacceptable" violation of privacy. According to leaked documents, sexually explicit images were among those gathered - not intentionally mind you.

Despite the seriousness of the charge, no agents have been detained at Her Majesty's pleasure and for what it’s worth, GCHQ released a statement that said all of its actions are “in accordance with the law.”

Before any Americans get up on their high horses, they might also be interested to learn that the spy operation, dubbed Optic Nerve, received aid from the US National Security Agency (NSA), and is alleged to have stored images between 2008 and 2010. In a particularly busy six-month period in 2008 – yes, that was a presidential election year - images from 1.8 million users were gathered.

The original report, issued by whistleblower Edward Snowden, 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."

For those of us who lack Internet savvy, the report further explained: "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."

For their part, Yahoo! was predictably outraged and was only too happy to express its disapproval after the fact, including the following statement: "We were not aware of nor would we condone this reported activity," Yahoo said in an email.

"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."

Does your family Yahoo!?

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