Bloomberg News

Israel Tracks Down Suspected Thieves of Population Database

October 24, 2011

(Updates with comment from official in third paragraph.)

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Israeli authorities have tracked down six people suspected of stealing a computerized population registry and releasing millions of people’s personal information on the Internet, government officials said.

The database maintained by the Interior Ministry was stolen by a government contractor working for the Labor and Welfare Ministry in 2006, Yoram Hacohen, chairman of Israel’s Law, Information and Technology Authority, said today at a Tel Aviv news conference. It passed through several hands before being posted on a website that made the information publicly accessible, he said, adding the site has been taken down.

The data theft “should make anyone who manages personal information and any citizen lose sleep,” Hacohen said.

The stolen information included data on 9.2 million Israelis, including those who have died, cross-indexed by name, identity number, date of birth, address, telephone number and other categories. It may have been used for a variety of purposes, ranging from marketing to identity theft and espionage, Hacohen said.

Names of the suspects were not disclosed. Details of the investigation were kept under government censorship until today, Hacohen said. The suspects have been prevented from leaving the country and the state prosecutor’s office is examining the files for possible indictments, he said.

A search of the home of one of the suspects turned up another database with comprehensive information on children adopted in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, said Hacohen, adding that the material had not been made public.

--Editors: Ben Holland, Karl Maier.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv at jferziger@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.


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