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British spies said to have intercepted Yahoo webcam images

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A British intelligence agency collected webcam images — many of them sexually explicit — from millions of Yahoo users, regardless of whether they were suspected of illegal activity, according to accounts of documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden.

The surveillance effort operated by Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters was code-named Optic Nerve. Images from Yahoo webcam chats were captured in bulk through the agency’s fiber-optic cable taps and saved to a GCHQ database, where they could be queried by a search tool provided by the National Security Agency called XKeyscore, according to a report Thursday by The Guardian.

The report did not indicate whether the agency also collected webcam images from similar services, such as Google Hangouts or Microsoft’s Skype.

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