Edward Snowden Says Young NSA Employees Ogle at Nude Photos Intercepted by Spy Agency

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By Vittorio Hernandez | July 19, 2014 7:35 PM EST

Although employees of the National Security Agency (NSA) are professionals trained in the art and science of espionage and intelligence gathering, its young workers are no different from regular youth who still get aroused seeing naked images of men and women.

REUTERS/NBC News/Handout via R
Former U.S. defense contractor Edward Snowden is seen during an interview with "NBC Nightly News" anchor and managing editor Brian Williams in Moscow in this undated handout photo released May 28, 2014.

The nude photos intercepted by the agency, such as naked selfies sent to one's girlfriend or boyfriend, are seen as one of the fringe benefits of being an employee of NSA as these images are passed among the young employees, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden disclosed to The Guardian from Russia.

Snowden explained that young NSA workers in the age group 18 to 22 are suddenly placed in a position of extraordinary responsibility that allows them access to private records of individuals. As part of their job, the NSA agents could find along the way nude photos of a person under investigation in a sexually compromising situation.

It's the buddy system in operation as discovery of a naked photo is shared from desk to desk until so many NSA workers have ogled at the subject. This informal method of sharing data is never reported and only those involved are aware of this practice, which reflects the "incredibly weak" auditing of the agency's system, Snowden said.

The whistleblower said that he had personally witnessed several instances of the nude photo brigade. His disclosure matches an official NSA report that employees indeed abuse their access to surveillance results for personal gratification, including a new employee who, on his first day of work, read a private letter of his former girlfriend.

Another incident involved a 29-year-old employee who walked out of NSA offices with a big amount of internal files.

Snowden named Spideroak, a cloud storage provider, as a secure place for data backup since it is in encrypted format which only the customers holds, thus, the company could not be pressured to give the encryption keys to government agencies.

In contrast, he said that Spideroak's competitor, Dropbox, just appointed former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as board director. Rice, he said, is "the most anti-privacy individual you can imagine," which would likely translate into anti-privacy practices in the service provider.

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(Photo: REUTERS/NBC News/Handout via R / )
Former U.S. defense contractor Edward Snowden is seen during an interview with "NBC Nightly News" anchor and managing editor Brian Williams in Moscow in this undated handout photo released May 28, 2014.
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