In a report released on August 16, 2021, the head of Security Research at Comparitech, Volodymyr Diachenko, expressed concern over his discovery that over 1.9 million FBI terror watch list records were “accidentally” leaked online, including full names, citizenship & passport numbers.
Each record in the watchlist contained the target’s full name, TSC watchlist ID, citizenship, gender, date of birth, passport number, country of issuance, and the notorious “no-fly indicator” that has been weaponized against political activists throughout the U.S.
Shockingly, none of the individuals who were named on the list have been notified that they were on the list, sparking concern by whistleblowers over whether the designation could harm the reputation, income, or personal safety of the over 1.9 million individuals named on the list.
The database was reportedly found on a Bahrain IP address, not a US one, indicating the information may have been widely distributed before whistleblowers shared the information with U.S. citizens with warnings of the incident.
The terrorist watchlist is made up of people who are suspected of terrorism but who have not necessarily been charged with any crime. 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.Bob Diachenko, Cyber Threat Intelligence Director at security firm Security Discovery
It remains unclear whether U.S. intelligence agencies intentionally leaked the information online. One source within the infosec community alleges the leak may have been an intentional form of governmental “doxxing”, as such information might harm the personal lives of those who were found to be on such lists.
While 1.9 million individuals who are named on the list have yet to be notified by the authorities that their personal information could be in the hands of nefarious actors, their job prospects, familial relationships, and personal safety may be affected if such information were to be widely distributed.