The latest Snowden files revealed by the Guardian show Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of innocent internet users. This was carried out under a blanket surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve.
A GCHQ spokesman commented: "... all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate."
The intimate nature of images gathered is shown by one of the documents observing: "a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person."
Pirate Party UK Leader Loz Kaye said:
"I thought I couldn't be shocked any more by the latest news of how GCHQ and the NSA have been betraying our trust. But the thought of the security services directly spying in to people's homes sends a shiver down the spine."
"It's been claimed that ordinary people have nothing to fear from these programmes and that the Snowden files aren't relevant to their lives. But you can't get more relevant than spooks thinking looking at your genitals is part of their job."
"The authorities keep on saying that this is happening in a 'strict legal framework'. If that is true surely these stomach churning revelations show that there is something fundamentally wrong with that framework."
"This is the poisonous legacy of Blair years and the climate of fear that has eroded our civil liberties. It's time to set a different course, and reject blanket surveillance."