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Private firms deal in confidential information of millions of Greeks

09 January 2013 / 14:01:49  GRReporter
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The Greek police have stopped the illegal activities of a consulting firm in Athens, which was charged with selling the personal data of Greek citizens for a sum of between 200 to 1,000 euro. The "consultants" were selling mainly data related to the financial and tax condition of a wide range of customers.

According to "Ethnos" newspaper, the turnover of the illegal trade in personal data exceeds the amount of 4-5 million euro. In some cases, the data were obtained through a subscription since some of the customers wanted a monthly update of the citizens' data.

Among those wishing to obtain otherwise confidential information were banks, private firms and even pawnshops. The most "regular" among them were able to pay for the service in instalments and at lower prices. Despite the efforts of the authorities, the number of citizens whose confidential data the firm has stolen and sold and the firms that have obtained the data illegally are not yet clear.

The service combating financial crimes has undertaken to solve the case and according to a participant in the investigation, it was difficult for the authorities to start the persecution against the firm. "We were surprised by the fact that when we found the firm, which had even been advertising the sale of confidential data, our access to it was very difficult and we needed a prosecutor's order."

The police operation involving economic policemen was held two days ago. The authorities discovered a database of over 67 million entries of individual and legal persons as well as personal confidential data such as names and surnames, addresses, details of vehicles and their owners, tax numbers, property and more.

The head of the firm was captured in connection with the case but the police are searching for its president and executive manager aged 31 and its technical manager, who is 35 years old. The charges against them are of violating the law on personal data protection.

The interesting thing here is that the data are similar to those that had "leaked" from the Ministry of Finance twice. In addition to the detailed financial data of taxpayers, the 67 million entries include even information from electoral lists. Experts believe that there is a connection between this case and the "leaks" of data from the ministries of transport and interior. "The databases are the same and even the entries were made in the same way. The only difference is that their number in the database we have found is significantly higher," say police sources.
 
They think that a group of government employees are selling the personal data of citizens to which they have access and it won’t be difficult to reach the customers of the specific firm as they have found invoices. Following a prosecutor’s order, tax and financial inspections are being carried out in the firm.

The investigators will focus next on revealing the vicious network of public workers who illegally make use of the data of all Greek citizens. The case proves just how inefficient the system protecting the public services and the information they store is.

To reach the source of the "leaked" information, the authorities will carry out a detailed inspection of the electronic systems, networks and computers of the selling firm and of the three ministries, namely those of finance, transport and the interior.

Tags: Crime newsSocietyLeak of data from ministriesPublic workersConsulting firmInvestigation
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