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'Sextortion," the secret control of webcams or smartphone cameras to run extortion rackets against people, is also a growing problem.

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This works in two ways: companies and organizations spying on their own employees, and competitors and thieves spying on corporations.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.While not all webcams have indicator lights, and many laptops do not have them at all, the indicator light is a nice security feature that tells you when the camera is active.Interpol announced the arrest of 58 persons in the Philippines for sextortion, including one case where a 17-year-old victim committed suicide in July last year following blackmailing by the group.In fact, "the scale of these sextortion networks is massive, and run with just one goal in mind: to make money regardless of the terrible emotional damage they inflict on their victims," says Sanjay Virmani, director of the Interpol Digital Crime Center.Part of the problem stems from the fact that it is legal to sell spy software.

It's just illegal to use it without permission outside the workplace, unless it is used by parents to spy on their minor children.

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.

Stephen Bryen, Chairman & CTO Ziklag Systems Spying through smartphone cameras, computer webcams, laptops and tablets is widespread and governments have been checking people out for years.

Between 20, GCHQ, Britain's NSA, ran a program called Optic Nerve that scanned live webcam chats on Yahoo (and probably other chat services).

Along with the photos, data on your location is displayed in the intercept so you can be easily tracked.