From: Alice Taylor
Prosecutors Asks Albanian Journalists to Reveal Sources following Major Leak of Personal Data

The Special Anti-Corruption and Organized Crime Prosecution has called in for questioning the two owners and editors of following the recent leak of highly sensitive personal data belonging to more than 910,000 Albanians.

On Sunday, Lapsi published information on a database containing data that allegedly came from the Civil Registry and other public institutions was provided to the Socialist Party for use in their campaign. 

The data provided in the database included their ID number, name, fathers name, surname, date of birth, voting center, place of birth, residence code, list number, phone number, whether they are an emigrant and if so, which country, whether they are likely to vote for the Socialist Party, birthplace, employer, and “Patron”.

It’s alleged this data was taken from the Civil Registry, collected via the e-Albania portal and other public institutions.

Not only was this data, in Access format, shared with a political party, but it was then made public via a WeTransfer link. Now the document is being widely shared and is available to anyone that asks for it. 

Andi Bushati told BIRN that prosecutors tried to make him reveal his source, to which he refused. He added that prosecutors should be investigating how the data ended up in the hands of politicians, rather than how the media got hold of it. 

At the time of writing, prosecutors have not conducted any searches or checks at party offices or made a public comment on the direction of the investigation. Meanwhile, the private and sensitive data of citizens is circulating freely on the internet.

The Socialist Party has acknowledged that the database exists but claims it was compiled over several years by door-to-door canvassing. Citizens whose data has been exposed have denied this, stating they haven’t given such information to members of the party, and that some of the data in the files were not even known to them.

But the information also includes new employers, changes in the last few months, new businesses that were set up in the last six months, and new mobile numbers registered in the last year. Another individual known to Exit found he was registered as employed with a different company name than he expected. This information was not known to him and would have only been available via his tax number which is part of the data held by e-Albania.

Those who have accessed the data said it’s very up-to-date and matches with the information they provided to state institutions. 

One field relates to “notes” and contains details on conclusions the Patron has made on them. This includes them checking the individual’s social media platform, their religious beliefs, favors that have been given to them by the state, favors requested from them and calls to keep them under monitoring. 

Some even included personal information about family relationships, the employment of relatives, and calls to contact, and individual to get their employees to vote for them.

The incident was immediately flagged on the Mapping Media Freedom portal as a threat to media freedom. 



Read more: Exit Explains: The Leak of Over 910,000 Albanians Personal Data to Politicians and the Public