The latest Snowden leaks really do plumb some depths. The spooks have been viewing webcam images from Yahoo. 1.8m users targeted in a six month period. Of these a significant amount contained body images and sometimes pornography. So much so that GCHQ had to warn their snoopers to be aware of the sexual nature of the content:
‘Sexually explicit webcam material proved to be a particular problem for GCHQ, as one document delicately put it: "Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person. 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.”Guardian 27/2/14
This is not ‘targeted’ surveillance. This is mass snooping. People, paid for by our taxes, are sitting in offices in GCHQ, Cheltenham, 'earning' their living trawling through thousands of webcam images created by innocent citizens. This latest leak poses several very serious questions for the authorities to answer.
- Some (how many?) of these images will be from young teenagers - under the age of sixteen. Does this place the snoopers at risk of being prosecuted for having child pornography on their computers?
- It has been reported by computer experts that the technology exists to replace/adapt/alter images to implicate someone in an activity they had no part in. Has this technique been used? It is potentially very useful in helping put pressure on wavering politicians.
- Could this go some way to explain our government’s (and Parliament’s) supine responses to date?
- How are staff chosen to view the material resulting from ‘Optic Nerve’ and what checks and balances are in place that the material will not be abused and used for personal gratification?
- GCHQ infamously say they do not comment on ‘security matters’. Why the hell not? Particularly as this latest revelation has bugger all to do with ‘security’ and a hell of a lot to do with them behaving reprehensibly.
- We do live in a democracy ————- don’t we?
With all their sophisticated data gathering equipment, the very existence of this blog with GCHQ in its title and content will no doubt trigger a collection bug. So these last questions are directed at the spook(s) who have to read it.
- Are you happy in your work?
- Do you feel valued by the great British public?
- Do you feel there should be much stronger safeguards to protect citizens’ privacy?
- Have you ever watched ‘The Lives of Others,’ the brilliant film about the way the Stasi operated? If not, why not? If you have - why are you still snooping at GCHQ?
Time for the bosses of this rampantly out of control organisation to be finally held to account. The old ‘we don’t comment on security matters’ will not wash this time.
This is about GCHQ behaving like a bunch of perverts.
Time for Parliament to rediscover its cojones.