British Agents Have Seen Your Penis

Have a seat, agents. The show is about to begin.Credit: mofetos / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDIf you’ve used webcam chats via Yahoo, there’s a chance that Great Britain’s surveillance agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has collected still images of you in bulk, including images of your junk you might have flashed at some lucky person on the other end.

The latest documents leaked by Edward Snowden are about a program called Optic Nerve, which bulk-collected screenshots of Yahoo chats and stored them in databases, one image every five minutes. The images were used for experiments with automated facial recognition to try to monitor terrorism suspects. The Guardian reports:

The agency did make efforts to limit analysts' ability to see webcam images, restricting bulk searches to metadata only.

However, analysts were shown the faces of people with similar usernames to surveillance targets, potentially dragging in large numbers of innocent people. One document tells agency staff they were allowed to display "webcam images associated with similar Yahoo identifiers to your known target".

Optic Nerve was based on collecting information from GCHQ's huge network of internet cable taps, which was then processed and fed into systems provided by the NSA. Webcam information was fed into NSA's XKeyscore search tool, and NSA research was used to build the tool which identified Yahoo's webcam traffic.

One of the big problems on GCHQ’s end was that the images were full of wangs and butts and boobs:

The document estimates that between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains "undesirable nudity". Discussing efforts to make the interface "safer to use", it noted that current "naïve" pornography detectors assessed the amount of flesh in any given shot, and so attracted lots of false positives by incorrectly tagging shots of people's faces as pornography.

GCHQ did not make any specific attempts to prevent the collection or storage of explicit images, the documents suggest, but did eventually compromise by excluding images in which software had not detected any faces from search results – a bid to prevent many of the lewd shots being seen by analysts.

The system was not perfect at stopping those images reaching the eyes of GCHQ staff, though. An internal guide cautioned prospective Optic Nerve users that "there is no perfect ability to censor material which may be offensive. Users who may feel uncomfortable about such material are advised not to open them".

Yahoo condemned the program and claim they didn’t know it was going on:

"We were not aware of, nor would we condone, this reported activity," said a spokeswoman. "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.

Read the full story here.

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  • Rhywun||

    violation of our users' privacy

    That's quaint, citizen.

  • Doctor Whom||

    This adds new meaning to "The innocent have nothing to hide."

  • Rich||

    An internal guide cautioned prospective Optic Nerve users that "there is no perfect ability to censor material which may be offensive. Users who may feel uncomfortable about such material are advised not to open them".

    Oh, FFS! Fuck the users, uncomfortable or not.

  • Ebriosa||

    To be fair, some people's faces ARE pornographic.

  • Tim||

    Bond: “Miss Anders! I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.”

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I only take the tape off my webcam long enough to rub my dick all over the lens.

  • Jon Lester||

    I don't doubt it, because I have quite a few friends in eastern Europe who watch me because they like to, not because I ever have any money. The only harm I see done is I may have shattered someone's illusions at GCHQ.

  • Jon Lester||

    Wait, Yahoo chat? Been a few years since I did anything through that outlet, but what I said still applies.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That opening says a lot about you, Scott "Loveshack" Shackford.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Here we see footage of British agents accessing Optic Nerve.

  • Invisible Finger||

    including images of your junk you might have flashed

    Allegedly, teenagers do this.

    That would mean the British government is trafficking child pornography.

    Child porn is OK if the government does it.

  • fish||

    Child porn is OK if the government does it.

    Everything is OK if the government does it serf!

    TOP MEN and all!

  • Dweebston||

    I want a reverse snapchat app. I want to make it impossible to scrub that image from your phone.

  • Invisible Finger||

    So does the NSA.

  • OldMexican||

    British Agents Have Seen Your Penis


    And they all died of envy.

  • Invisible Finger||

    incorrectly tagging shots of people's faces as pornography.

    Hello, dicknose!

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Is this dicknose a class mate of wood eye and cuntface?

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Or are you wearing your internet mask (probably NSFW) again?

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Or are you wearing your internet mask (probably NSFW) again?

  • John||

    So is it possible that some Brit agent stumbled upon the junk of one Anthony Weiner and gave it to his American counterparts?

  • Dweebston||

    I doubt it. The software filtered his name from the metadata collection.

  • Tommy_Grand||

    Teh b. hussein obama c.i.a. minions engaged in a multinational conspiracy to bring down a. weiner. read all about it in our mimeographed newsletter...

  • Lord Humungus||

    If they saw Warty's penis, the death would make an epic mask of fear & loathing.

  • John||

    I am pretty sure gazing at even its image would turn all but those with the strongest constitution into stone.

  • Dweebston||

    strongest constitution

    What about a saving throw against madness?

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    at -5

  • Jerms||

    So now my wife AND Britain know Im hung like an elevator button. Great.

  • GILMORE||

    "between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains "undesirable nudity"."

    Fat people

    (shudder)

  • fish||

    Ah...there's that British trait for understatement again.....

  • Cdr Lytton||

    You know who else harvested undesirables..

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Jim "Shanghai" Kelly?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Kelly_(crimper)

  • Paul.||

    American Idol?

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    Buffalo Bill?

  • Christina||

    All I can think of now is the comedy value of having a dick pic come up during a facial recognition search. Get on it, Hollywood!

  • pan fried wylie||

    People don't realize that your underpants are the best spot to store your webcam when not in use. Those that do skimp on the lighting setup.

  • Greg Gauthier||

    I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjbPi00k_ME

  • Nick M||

    An internal guide cautioned prospective Optic Nerve users that "there is no perfect ability to censor material which may be offensive. Users who may feel uncomfortable about such material are advised not to open them".

    Perfect way to censor the material: don't collect it in the first place.

  • playa manhattan||

    Is Jesse aware of this?

  • Swiss Servator, mehr Käse!||

    Looking for a connoisseur's opinion of the program?

  • playa manhattan||

    He founded this program. He's owed royalties at this point.

  • ||

    This article has made my day. I hope GCHQ agents enjoyed all the taint they were seeing in 2008 before non-shitty video chat options were widely available.

  • Paul.||

    Of facial recognition. I was all, yeah, I saw that one on XHAMSTER last week.

  • le||

    This probably is their site, the point is the Hollywood industry uses anyone to record them while asleep, responsible for the murders, rapes, beatings, division of families for profit or game, rapes of children to film. The politicians are involved and when I see them all is unreal.

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