Will webcam spying report change debate over monitoring programs?

Webcam spying report: British spy agencies st... 02:26

If you have a webcam, your picture may be in the hands of British intelligence.

British newspaper The Guardian says a surveillance program targeted 1.8 million Yahoo users around the world, even though none are suspected of wrongdoing.

The report is based on classified documents from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

The report is more information about just how invasive the security agencies' monitoring programs have been, both in the U.K. and in the U.S., intercepting vast amounts of private electronic communication, including emails and, now, pictures, CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer reported.

The Guardian reports that an official British spy agency, GCHQ, used software provided by the NSA to vacuum up millions of video images from webcam conversations by Yahoo users. That is, it was invisibly eavesdropping on conversations - the kind that are used more and more to chat and do business.

But because video files are so large, the U.K. government computers were only capturing one still frame every five minutes.

There is one thing that has got Britons laughing about the entire affair, Palmer said. It's the revelation in GCHQ documents that their analysts had to be warned to use caution when they were looking at the intercepts because up to 11 percent of them contained what it called "undesirable nudity."

Yahoo, which said it knew nothing about the program, said it amounted to "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy."

The Guardian reports the program is code-named OPTIC NERVE, and it served partly to experiment with face-recognition technology.

The U.K. government says the program was entirely legal. But Phillip Mudd, a former CIA analyst, says whether it's acceptable is another question. "The question this raises is the same question that's raised by the acquisition of phone and email data," Mudd said. "It's not whether you can do it. It's whether citizens in Britain and the United States believe their governments should do it."

The allegation that the government is not only reading and listening, but also watching our private lives, Palmer added on "CTM," is bound to intensify that debate.