Marcus Thomas, a former assistant director of the FBI's Operational Technology Division in Quantico, Virginia, tells the Washington Post that the FBI could spy on anyone's webcam without turning on the camera's indicator light.
Many of the images obtained were very personal ones and could be used to either embarrass or blackmail users.
Reports in the UK say that NSA engineers helped GCHQ develop the Optic Nerve program.
This sort of special intelligence cooperation is a regular occurrence under the "Five Eyes" program. Obviously, when used correctly and legally, this is an important counter-terrorism tool. government still has, new legislation notwithstanding, is how to assure the proper handling of extremely personal information that is completely unrelated to any counter terrorism or criminal activity.
But when it is used as a political tool to harass or blackmail people, the consequences are different and corrosive. But the NSA and GCHQ aren't the only entities spying on webcams.
Along with the photos, data on your location is displayed in the intercept so you can be easily tracked.
All this happens without any awareness by the phone user -- the screen can either be turned off or on, it does not matter.
He is working on his Ph D at MIT and writes a blog called Snacks for Your Mind.
Sidor's latest "snack" is a demonstration of how the cameras on your Android Smartphone can be turned on without you knowing it, and sequential photos sent to a third party over the Internet.
Photos of the students included snaps of them at home, in bed, sometimes partially clothed.
In one case the school claimed a student was popping pills: in fact he was eating candy.
Szymon has gotten around the Android requirement to display any photo preview on the screen by reducing the preview to only one pixel, which you won't notice even when your screen is on.