Turkish minister calls massive data leak report an ‘old story’
ISTANBULTurkey’s communications minister has denied reports of a massive data leak containing the personal information of nearly 50 million Turkish citizens, saying the leak was an “old story” from 2010, as allegations triggered concerns over personal data protection.
“This is a very old story. A similar allegation was made in 2010,” Turkish Transportation, Communication and Maritime Affairs Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters during a meeting with board members of the Turkish World Union of Engineers and Architects (TDMMB) on April 5.
The remark came in response to a question regarding reports of a leaked database which contained 49,611,709 entries of private information, putting Turkish citizens at risk of identity theft and fraud.
“This issue is brought to the agenda from time to time. It is now being served like a new story. These outdated reports are not newsworthy,” Yıldırım said, adding stricter measures would be put in place as soon as a new and controversial law on the protection of personal data becomes effective.
Turkey’s draft law on personal data protection was criticized for failing to establish an independent oversight body by both main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and a senior EU diplomat speaking to Hürriyet Daily News in February 2016.
“In the West, an autonomous body is tasked with protecting personal data. Here, a commission, an institution, is being founded and three of its members will be appointed by the president, while four of its members will be appointed by the cabinet,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Feb. 23, defining the law as a means to legalize “blacklisting everybody in the name of the protection of personal data.”
During the press conference, Yıldırım said cyber threats would stay high on the agenda of the entire world as long as information technologies continued to progress. He said it was something the public needed to “learn to live with,” likening cyber threats to diseases.
“Since we cannot give up on the cyber world, the Internet, mobile phones or e-commerce, we will strive to discover how to make use of these new technologies in ways beneficial to human kind,” he added.
Reports of a fresh data leak began circulating early April 5 after the Associated Press released a report on hackers who posted a database online which included the personal information of nearly 50 million Turkish citizens, describing the incident “one of the largest leaks of its kind.”
“The Associated Press on April 4 was able to partially verify the authenticity of the leak by running 10 non-public Turkish ID numbers against names contained in the dump. Eight were a match,” the agency said, adding entries included data such as national ID numbers, addresses, birthdates and parents’ names.
The leak put Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) under the spotlight, as both were slammed for failing to protect private data due to a “crumbling technical infrastructure.”
According to the AP, the hackers also compared U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to Erdoğan and mockingly warned the American electorate against voting for Trump.