Turkey’s intel agency sends list of 122,000 ByLock users to prosecutor’s office
ANKARATurkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) has sent a list of a total of 122,000 alleged users of the ByLock smartphone app, which came to prominence after it emerged that members of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) used it to communicate, to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
MİT also deciphered the contents of some 18 million messages sent through ByLock by the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is widely believed to have orchestrated the July 15, 2016, failed coup, and sent them to the prosecutor’s office, which then transferred the lists to the Department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime, daily Habertürk reported on March 1.
According to the daily, MİT has completed most of its works regarding ByLock and determined all the users in the server. The previously prepared lists, which were sent to the provincial police, were merged with the new one and updated.
In order not to make any mistakes in the list, MİT reportedly conducted meticulous efforts and concluded that there were around 122,000 ByLock users in Turkey.
The Department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime transferred the list to its own database, with police in provinces able to check the list with a password given to them. Only one or two officials in the provinces are able to check the names in the list by entering the suspected person’s Turkish identity number or phone number.
In the checks done in the provinces, authorities are initially attempting to find who used the phones with ByLock. If the person who bought the phone line and the one who used it is different, then legal proceedings are conducted against the latter.
According to MİT, ByLock was found in some of the phones that were checked before and then added to the new list. The names of the previously determined suspects were checked once again to determine if there was any mistake by authorities.
Meanwhile, the details of ByLock were included in the FETÖ main indictment prepared by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. The indictment, which involves MİT’s report sent to the prosecutor’s office, said “traces of FETÖ” could be found in the development process of the app.
There are no references regarding the previous works of the person who developed and brought the app into use and no contact information on the person is available. The in-app purchases were conducted via methods that provide anonymity.
The names of the users and groups, as well as the deciphered passwords, are mostly in Turkish, while users largely used VPNs to access the application. At the same time, Google searches for ByLock mostly originated from Turkey.
According to MİT, ByLock users devoted the utmost significance to privacy and a cryptographic password was determined for each user, as well as a regular password that could be as long as 38 digits.
The messages also deleted themselves automatically.