If you're in a long-distance relationship and relying on a webcam to get busy, listen up: There may or may not be a government official tuning in, too. The latest leak from Edward Snowden reveals that the NSA and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Britain have been spying on video chat calls, and there's a good chance they've seen you in your skivvies (or less), according to a report in The Guardian. So you might want to cancel tonight's call, you know, unless you're into voyeurism.
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GCHQ, with aid from the NSA, used a program named Optic Nerve to collect photos from Yahoo users' webcam conversations, and a good chunk of those snapshotsÃ¢â‚¬”between 3 and 11 percentÃ¢â‚¬”were deemed NSFW. According to The Guardian, this program was intended for facial recognition to identify targets of interest, not your naked body partsÃ¢â‚¬”but it didn't really discriminate between the two. Instead, the system just saved one image every five minutes from 1.8 million users' feeds.
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Obviously, they saw a lot of nakedness. And apparently, this shocked them. One leaked document states, "It would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person." Uh, yeah, what were they expecting?
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What does this mean for you? Well, first we'd suggest covering up and stepping away from the computer. Even though this breach only affected Yahoo users (and may have affected more people in the U.K. than the U.S.), it's still pretty terrifying that someone may be snooping on your Skype sex. In fact, many people worry that the NSA could have access to your phone and e-mail as well, so if you can't get intimate IRL, snail mail might be your best bet. Find out more ways to keep long-distance love aliveÃ¢â‚¬”without a security breach.