Maldives Elections Commission hasn’t been known for protecting citizens’ personal information. During the past 2013 Presidential Elections they publicly displayed voters’ lists at poll stations which showed the voter’s photo, national ID card number, date of birth and other sensitive personal information. And after the 2008 Presidential Elections, the voters’ registry used then was leaked to the public which included similar personal information of citizens. This data was later briefly publicly made available on-line through a rouge website which was quickly taken down after the issue came up in the local media.
Despite all these past blunders the Elections Commission does not seem to have addressed the issue and I have recently discovered a huge flaw in the EC’s website which arguably is the worst violation of privacy by them to date. While I was recently doing some Googling I happened upon that if you search for “<enter person’s name here> site:elections.gov.mv” you can get the personal information of any Maldivian citizen who was eligible to vote during the 2013 Presidential Election! The information available included the person’s full name, permanent address, sex, date of birth and national identity card number.
And when you go to the result link you get all his personal details.
It seems that this information is coming from the voters’ lists for individual ballot boxes from the last Presidential Elections. After talking to a person that worked as an elections official during the last election, apparently these lists were made available to them via the EC’s website. However it doesn’t seem that the EC intended these to be viewable to the general public since I couldn’t find any links to these files on their website.
Some might question why this should be such an issue. Well, since the data is available publicly any person with malicious intent could potentially misuse them in this age of identity theft and on-line fraud. For example it could be used to obtain your bank account details, register a service under your name and more all without your prior knowledge or permission.
The Elections Commission and other government agencies needs to address these privacy issues and protect citizens’ personal information. The Peoples’ Majilis needs to come up with a viable Data Protection Act that will ensure the privacy of common citizens’ in the collection, storage, usage and dissemination of their personal information.