SPEND MORE than five minutes at any tech show and you'll probably be offered a set of branded webcam covers.
The small plastic devices are designed to cover the webcam, so you can operate without prying eyes, with a sliding mechanism allowing you to uncover it when you actually need it.
Everyone is making them; you can pick them up for a few quid on Amazon, some models have them built in, or what about these natty-looking purple ones from none other than the National Security Agency (NSA)? If you can't trust the NSA, who can you trust, right?
One problem, NSA. They're translucent. Did you think we wouldn't notice?
OK, so it was probably just a bad bit of manufacturing, but the fact remains that anyone at the other end can still see vague shapes and bright lights, much as if you were looking at the other person through a Quality Street wrapper (though we all know that the fudge is the best Quality Street - don't @ us).
Our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) were the first to flag this up to the spooks, in the form of a tweet:
Replies on Twitter vary from the "well that's no accident" type to the "it couldn't be used in court anyway" expertise from armchair special agents.
One interesting note is that it is confusing, but not completely confounding facial recognition algorithms - it can still spot a human shape, but it can't identify individuals. Yet.
Others have shown examples of their own acquired webcam covers with a similar issue, and whilst that's a reminder that it could happen to anyone, the fact is that it happened to the NSA and so its instantly ruddy hilarious, if a little worrying.
The NSA has yet to respond. μ
Now you can watch documentaries about horribly disfigured people whenever you like
Brad to the bone
Being in a minority of one doesn't make you right
WeWork needs a rework