UK and US Collected Millions of Webcam Images (Many Nude) ... To Smear or Blackmail the Targets?

George Washington's picture

Newly-released Snowden documents show that the British and American spy agencies gathered and stored many millions of images from Yahoo web cam streams … and that a large percentage are naked or pornographic images.

Given that the spy agencies use porn to discredit activists – and apparently to blackmail critics -  it is worth asking whether that was the larger purpose for this spy program.

Indeed, Glenn Greenwald – who has seen all of the Snowden documents – tweets:

Regarding GCHQ/NSA collection of sex chat photos, remember they plot to use online sex activity to harm reputations ....

The Associated Press notes:

The stockpiling of sexually explicit images of ordinary people had uncomfortable echoes of George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four," where the authorities — operating under the aegis of "Big Brother" — fit homes with cameras to monitor the intimate details of people's home lives.

 

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The collection of nude photographs also raise questions about potential for blackmail. America's National Security Agency has already acknowledged that half a dozen analysts have been caught trawling databases for inappropriate material on partners or love interests. Other leaked documents have revealed how U.S. and British intelligence discussed leaking embarrassing material online to blacken the reputations of their targets.

And Bill Binney - the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, a 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, the senior technical director within the agency and managed thousands of NSA employees, an expert on spying by the Soviets, interviewed by virtually all of the mainstream media, including CBS, ABC, CNN, New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, PBS and many others - told Washington's Blog:

This is just one of the ways to make controlling people possible.  Standard KGB/Stasi tactics.

In addition, top security experts have pointed out that spy agencies' mass surveillance leaves such information vulnerable to hackers and other malicious actors.

So even if those nude pictures aren't used for smear campaigns or blackmail (or drooled over) by GCHQ or NSA personnel, they might be by others.