Photo: FBI

Data Breach: FBI’s terrorist watchlist containing 1.9million records leaked online

*Security experts say if in the wrong hands, the watchlist could cause any number of personal and professional problems for innocent people whose names are included in it

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

With a possibility that the list could be used to oppress, harass, or persecute innocent people and their families, an FBI terrorist watchlist containing 1.9million records mistakenly found its way onto the Internet unguarded, allowing anyone and everyone to view it.

ConsumerConnect reports the FBI Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) is the database created in 2003 as a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the country.

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The database is managed by the FBI, and it contains the names and personal details of individuals who are “known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activities,” report stated.

Volodymyr “Bob” Diachenko, Comparitech’s Head of Security Research, is the cyber security professional who first stumbled onto the treasure trove in the Information Superhighway, agency report said.

Disclosing this development while sharing the details of his find, Diachenko noted that the watchlist came from the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), a multi-agency group administered by the FBI, which is the same agency that is in charge of the US’ no-fly list.

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It was gathered the Comparitech’s Head of Security Research said he immediately reported the leak to country’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials before he went any further.

The DHS, though did not provide any further official comment, acknowledged the incident and thanked Diachenko for his efforts.

According to him, a typical record in the list contained the following details:

  • Full name
  • TSC watchlist ID
  • Citizenship
  • Gender
  • Date of birth
  • Passport number
  • Country of issuance
  • No-fly indicator

According to PCMag’s investigation of the situation, the list consists of people who are suspected of terrorism, but who have not necessarily been charged with any crime yet.

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The publication stated: “In the wrong hands, this list could be used to oppress, harass, or persecute people on the list and their families.

It could cause any number of personal and professional problems for innocent people whose names are included in the list.”

It was gathered one of those “personal problems” made headlines in 2017, when consumers misidentified as terrorists won a $60million verdict against TransUnion when it misidentified them in their credit reports as terrorists and drug traffickers.

American Civil Liberties Union reacts to ‘no-fly’ list

The no-fly list has reportedly proved to be a double-edged sword.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said though the FBI could justify its reasons, the Union has long picked holes in the list because the people placed on the terrorist watchlist are not always notified.

Could something like this happen to anyone? The short answer is yes, report stated.

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As an example, infants have been prevented from boarding planes at airports across the United States because their names happened to be the same as, or similar to, those of possible terrorists on the government’s ”no-fly list.”

ACLU, however, maintains both US citizens and “lawful permanent residents” have rights that the DHS and TSC are supposed to review before any action is taken.

Report also indicates the ACLU usually offers tips to anyone who is mistakenly caught in the no-fly snare in the country.

A complete list of dos and don’ts is available HERE.

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