According to Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who leaked key documents detailing the National Security Agency's broad surveillance tactics, workers at the embattled agency routinely circulate nude photographs discovered in their data sweeps.
In a lengthy video interview with The Guardian published Thursday, Snowden said he had observed NSA employees passing around "sexually compromising" photos picked up during surveillance.
Now in the course of their daily work, they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sense. For example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation, but they’re extremely attractive.
So what do they do? They turn around and they show their coworker. And their coworker says ‘Oh hey, that’s great. Show it to Bill down the way.’ And then Bill sends it to George, George sends it to Tom, and sooner or later this person’s whole life has been seen by all of these other people.
It’s never reported, no one ever knows about it because the auditing of these systems is incredibly weak. The fact that your private records, your private lives, records of your intimate moments have been taken from your private communication stream, from your intended recipient, by the government without any specific need, is a violation of your rights.
The NSA responded to the claim in an email to Forbes, but did not confirm nor deny the practice.
“NSA is a professional foreign-intelligence organization with a highly trained workforce, including brave and dedicated men and women from our armed forces,” NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines said. “As we have said before, the agency has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency’s authorities or professional standards, and would respond as appropriate to any credible allegations of misconduct.”