The World-Check database belonging to Thomson Reuters has been exposed by security researcher Chris Vickery, who claims it’s the same one used by banks and governments for screening people for terrorism activities or criminal ties.
“According to Vice.com, World-Check is used by over 300 government and intelligence agencies, 49 of the 50 biggest banks, and 9 of the top 10 global law firms,” said Vickery. “The current-day version of the database contains, among other categories, a blacklist of 93,000 individuals suspected of having ties to terrorism.”
Although the database is said to have information from 2014, Vickery also said Thomson Reuters is not the only company compiling this type of information and that anyone vetted by the company can become a subscriber. Although the researcher said no actual hacking was involved in obtaining the database, he does mention that, after contacting Thomson Reuters, the issue has been fixed.
The database in his possession is said to contain over 2.2 million heightened-risk individuals and the terrorism category accounts for only a small portion of the data. However, the researcher is still debating whether to post the information online. Claiming that innocent people might have ended up on the list and that the information appears to be compiled from public sources, Vickery turned to Reddit users for advice.
“I am posting this message in order to ask, ‘Should I release this database to the world?’. I want your opinion,” reads the Reddit post. “At the very least, this should jump-start a little online conversation regarding the appropriateness of having private entities maintain lists utilized by government agencies and banks.”