Yahoo has denied any knowledge of computer software allegedly used by U.S. and British security forces to gather thousands of images from its users' webcams over a two-year period.
The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), and the UK's GCHQ used the program to monitor and store still images taken from Yahoo customers' webcams between 2008 and 2010, the Guardian reported, citing GCHQ files.
Yahoo told the newspaper the revelation takes infringement of its users privacy to new heights. According to the New York Times, the surveillance effort was code-named Optic Nerve.
To make matters worse, there appears to be no reason for the interception, as none of the customers whose images were intercepted were suspected criminals. Nearly 2 million users' accounts were probed, and many of the images were sexual in nature, the Guardian added.
The revelation follows allegations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of widespread snooping on communications by the U.S. intelligence agency and its UK counterpart.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, recently called for a home-grown European communications network to prevent further breaches, after her mobile phone was allegedly monitored by the NSA and GCHQ.
Personal data protection was a hot topic with companies that FierceWireless:Europe interviewed at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.
Coleago Consulting chief executive Stefan Zehle, said: "[T]here is enormous political wind blowing in the direction of hosting platforms and services in Europe," while Orange's European senior executive vice president, Benoit Scheen, said consumers and businesses are also waking up to the need for data security.
Sergio Silvestre, global chief marketing officer of fraud protection and revenue assurance company WeDo Technologies, told FW:E that a growing number of "smart" home products and connected mobile devices is an opportunity for operators to generate new revenues from consumer protection products.
WeDo Technologies execs see connected home device protection opportunity for operators
Orange European exec sees opportunity in IoT, OTT security
European leaders discuss home-grown comms network to prevent U.S. spying