The NSA Is Spying on Your Webcam Sex

If you don't want it public, don't show your junk online.

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Chris Gladis / Flickr

Unless you want a public sex tape, you should probably stop using any kind of digital machine to record your intimate acts. The latest leak from Edward Snowden shows how the NSA and the British equivalent Government Communications Headquarters collaborated to intercept webcam images from innocent Internet users.

The Guardian reveals the surveillance program, the ominously named Optic Nerve. Optic Nerve collected webcam stills from over 1.8 million Yahoo users “in bulk,” but it only grabbed an image every five minutes. The images were filtered using facial recognition technology to find specific targets.

But Optic Nerve couldn’t control what kind of material it was collecting—the documents show that there was plenty of naughty material from the haul. “It would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person,” the document reads. The Yahoo webcam system “appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography.” Why were they surprised by this information, exactly?

Between three and 11 percent of the overall imagery that Optic Nerve collected was “undesirable nudity.” The program tried to filter by blocking images with too much flesh, but it ended up IDing images of faces as pornography, The Guardian reports. And Optic Nerve staff still had access to the pornographic images—“under GCHQ’s offensive material policy, the dissemination of offensive material is a disciplinary offense,” the document cautions.

In the age of LOVEINT, intercepted text messages, and your webcam spying on you, maybe it’s best just to go old-school and keep sexy times totally IRL. In a room encased with lead. With no electricity. Romantic, right?