An anonymous member of the British surveillance agency GCHQ admitted yesterday that he "paid very little attention" to the vast swathes of sensitive webcam images that were pulled directly from people's computers as part of the UK Government's 'Optic Nerve' program.
"I think you'd admit that the family photo album is pretty boring. Working on Optic Nerve was like that, but for the family of the entirety of Great Britain." said the anonymous spy, at a neutral location in the early hours of yesterday morning.
The program, which collected bulk information from Yahoo webcam users over a six month period in 2008, used face detection technology to search for known and potential criminals.
"By the end of it, that mostly consisted of dragging and dropping suspicious pictures into a folder marked 'Beardy'. I thought I saw a missile once, but then again, there are a lot of proud model rocket hobbyists online."
When questioned about the moral implications of such a wide-spread violation of personal privacy, the spy was flippant.
"I don't see the fuss, to be honest. There's a window at the front of my house that looks right into the living room. Want to watch me on my laptop? Just have a little peek."
After declining to offer his home address, the spy explained how working on the secretive program, which was aided by the US National Security Agency, was apparently arduous.
"You wouldn't believe the things we saw. Men with cold and unfeeling eyes, gazing soul-lessly at their PC's whilst shoveling crisps into their greasy maws. Mostly Americans, we told ourselves."
Finally, the question was posed, that surely there are easier ways of finding criminals than blindly searching through more than 1.8 million webcam images?
"Look, I understand that it might be pretty horrible to think that your personal data has been compromised, but unless you're a drug-lord or known terrorist, you're no special snowflake. Yes, I saw you. No, I would not be able to remember your face.
To find that photo of you with half a nipple in again would be like trying to find your keys in a pile of nearly 2 million keys."