From 2008 to 2012, the British intelligence agency gathered images of millions of Yahoo! users' on their webcams.

The British version of the NSA, GCHQ, operated a program called Optic Nerve, which took the photographs to test facial recognition technology, even while many of these users were not suspected of crimes. While the program was in operation, it collected images every five minutes, after which the images were stored in a database. GCHQ targeted Yahoo! webcams because it found out that many of their targets had used the service (which, as far as we can tell, is accessible through Yahoo! Messenger.) Essentially, the agency was using these innocent Yahoo! users as target practice. The images were collected from users all around the world, and not just those in the United Kingdom. At one point, images from 1.8 million users were collected in just six months during 2008.

We know what you're thinking—and yes, nude pictures were collected. Out of all the pictures the agency gathered, between 3 and 11 percent of them had "undesirable nudity," of which they didn't filter out.

Yahoo! says it did not know about Optic Nerve.

Now would be a good time to put some tape on that webcam. 

[via The Guardian]