Personal Data of 50 Million Turkish People Revealed

Source: Kacper Pempel/ Reuters

Source: Kacper Pempel/ Reuters

Details of almost 50 million Turkish citizens have been leaked online according to reports, including those of President Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and former President Abdullah Gül.

The data contain the names, ID numbers and even the address of millions of citizens. Although it is not the complete database as claimed – Turkey’s population is over 70 million – the majority of it is still valid, making is a very serious leak. The data is yet to be verified however as Associated Press reported, having authenticated 8 out of 10 ID numbers leaked.

The data was made public with two notes to Turkey and US political figures; “Who would have imagined that backwards ideologies, cronyism and rising religious extremism in Turkey would lead to a crumbling and vulnerable technical infrastructure?” Citizens were then told to “Do something about Erdoğan! He is destroying your country beyond recognition.”

Hactivists including Anonymous have increasingly targeted Turkey of late. The expected outcome of this politically motivated leak appears to be a social movement against the government, however this is an assumption lacking in understanding of Turkey’s socio-political context.

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, only 55.9% Turkish population has access to the internet; even fewer in rural areas where the number stands slightly above 30% according to the 2013 data.

The leak was not a hot topic in the Turkish printed press and was barely covered by the local online media. Based on this it seems that at least half of the Turkish population remains unaware of the situation, with many more who just do not care.

The Turkish population is now facing threats such as identity theft and fraud. National ID numbers, full names, parents’ names and birthdays were leaked. Dangerous enough in and of itself with links to banking, military service, voting and health, this information call also be used to access an even greater selection of data.

Data storage has recently become a controversial topic in Turkey as a draft law on personal data protection was heavily criticized by the opposition, who claimed it would be “a means to legalize blacklisting people in the name of personal data protection”.

Although the attack is aimed at political figures of the country, the collateral damage will be to the Turkish citizens who will likely see their data used for criminal activities as known authentication techniques are now seemingly obsolete for Turkey.

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