Privacy scare: Citizen phone numbers leaked on Twitter by local police

Image: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Did you ever imagine that reporting a street crime to the cops could land you in privacy trouble?

Well, if you’re in India’s Silicon Valley, it’s definitely possible.

In a serious breach of privacy, Bangalore City Police Control Room has been publishing on Twitter the phone numbers of thousands of citizens who have reported crimes using the emergency number 100, the Economic Times reports.

Since April 2015, the @BCPCR handle has tweeted nearly 46,000 phone numbers of complainants who reported various crimes from gambling on streets to harassment of women.

Phone numbers reaching the police control room through the emergency mobile app, Suraksha (Security), are being tweeted out as well.

The account, luckily, has a small following and was turned to ‘protected’ last evening. The main city police account is at @BlrCityPolice.

Image: TWITTER S CREENGRAB

The tweets were auto-generated, claim the cops, to demonstrate how citizens were warming up to the new police app. Officers are "unapologetic" about the privacy breach, the report added.

We stumbled upon a Medium blog from April 2016 which alleges that the city police had even leaked 13,000 call-data records (CDR) during Urban Hack, a hackathon focused on solving problems of cities, held two years ago.

The blogger, who claims to have been present at the event, writes:

"To our surprise, the CDR dataset released had phone numbers of the individuals which the police was monitoring. Normally when telephone companies share this data to third parties for internal analytics, the data is shared with extreme care. They are shared through a Virtual Cloud and the phone numbers are obfuscated with one way hash functions."

However, in this case, the dataset was shared on HackerEarth’s (one of the organizers of the event) webpage for over 1,500 people taking part in the hackathon.

"Post this, I along with several community members wrote a letter to the organizers re-iterating the importance of what happened, as the dataset was out with the participants and no body knows when it will re-surface," the blogger states.

Mashable has reached out to Bangalore Police for comment.

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