In an interview published by The Guardian on Sunday, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden explained that sometimes racy images intercepted by the NSA were shared by analysts.
During the interview, which was conducted in Russia, Snowden said that some of the American military personnel working on the NSA’s programs were between 18 and 22 and did not always respect the privacy of those whose communications were intercepted.
“In the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work, for example an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation but they’re extremely attractive,” he said. “So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and they show a co-worker. And their co-worker says: ‘Oh, hey, that’s great. Send that to Bill down the way.’ ”
Snowden said that type of sharing occurred once every couple of months and was “seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions.” He said that this was never reported and that the system for auditing surveillance programs was “incredibly weak.”
According to the New York Times, when asked for a comment, an N.S.A. spokeswoman, Vaneé Vines, said that the agency had zero tolerance for willful violations of authority or professional standards, and that it would respond as appropriate to any credible allegations of misconduct.
Watch Snowden explain his experience at 10:00 in the video below: