Turkey’s authorities launched a probe Wednesday into an alleged leak of the personal data of some 50 million citizens which threatens to compromise the information security of much of its population.
The massive database — purportedly containing the names, identity numbers and addresses of those listed — was posted online by hackers earlier this week along with sharp jabs at the country’s leadership.
Ankara federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into the data spill which risks exposing most of Turkey’s 78 million Turkish citizens to identity theft and fraud, Turkish media reports said.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that the number of people whose names were leaked was comparable to the number of voters on the electoral register.
Implying there could be a political link, he said that Turkey’s election commission shares the information on the electoral register with all political parties.
“Where this was leaked from, finding out how it was leaked, is what the investigation needs to focus on,” Bozdag told reporters in Ankara.
An online statement was posted by the hackers under the headline “Turkish Citizenship Database”, pointing out weaknesses in the country’s protection of data in a section called “lessons to learn for Turkey”.
It offered a hint of what the database contains, providing the personal data of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and former president Abdullah Gul.
The justice minister Bozdag said that Turkey had experienced a similar data leak in 2010 which prompted work on a new data protection law that will soon come into force.