Turkish authorities 'probing huge ID data leak'

Local press quoted Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag's announcement that an investigation had begun Image copyright AFP
Image caption Local press quoted Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag as saying an investigation had been opened

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into an alleged data leak of personal information of about 50 million citizens, local media say.

A database posted online this week is reported to have included people's names, ID numbers and addresses.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag was quoted by local media as saying the number of people was comparable to those on the electoral register.

The Interior Minister said there was "no need to worry".

Pro-government newspaper the Daily Sabah reported news of an investigation on Wednesday.

"Where this was leaked from, finding out how it was leaked, is what the investigation needs to focus on," Mr Bozdag was quoted as saying.

However, the website of Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet published a statement from Communications Minister Binali Yildirim in which he said the leak was "a very old story" and the reports were "not newsworthy".

Later still, the Turkish state news agency published comments from the Interior Minister in which he said that the alleged leak was not from the country's central civil registration system, known as MERNIS.

In addition, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu sought to reassure Turkey's citizens.

"It is of vital importance to protect personal data entrusted to states and entities," he said.

"The personal data of our citizens are as important as the personal data of mine as a prime minister."

'Partially verified'

In total, the database reportedly contains details of just under 50 million people. The population of Turkey is estimated at 78 million.

The data is also reported to include individuals' birth dates and parents' names.

The 1.5 gigabyte cache of data was "partially verified" by the Associated Press news agency.

This was achieved by comparing 10 non-public Turkish ID numbers against names in the database, resulting in eight matches, the agency said.

A message on a site hosting the allegedly leaked data reads: "Who would have imagined that backwards ideologies, cronyism and rising religious extremism in Turkey would lead to a crumbling and vulnerable technical infrastructure?

"Do something about [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan! He is destroying your country beyond recognition."

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