World-Check Database Leak Teaser

Chris Vickery posted to Reddit: Terrorism Blacklist: I have a copy. Should it be shared?, which reads in part as follows:

…A few years ago, Thomson Reuters purchased a company for $530 million. Part of this deal included a global database of “heightened-risk individuals” called World-Check that Thomson Reuters maintains to this day. According to, 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. The current-day version of the database contains, among other categories, a blacklist of 93,000 individuals suspected of having ties to terrorism.

I have obtained a copy of the World-Check database from mid-2014.

No hacking was involved in my acquisition of this data. I would call it more of a leak than anything, although not directly from Thomson Reuters. The exact details behind that can be shared at a later time.

This copy has over 2.2 million heightened-risk individuals and organizations in it. The terrorism category is only a small part of the database. Other categories consist of individuals suspected of being related to money laundering, organized crime, bribery, corruption, and other unsavory activities.

I am posting this message in order to ask, “Should I release this database to the world?”. I want your opinion.

Yeah, right.

Chris’s question: “Should I release this database to the world?,” was moot from the outset.

This is pandering for attention at its very worst.

Chris could have put all of us on par with $1 million subscribers to the World-Check database but chose attention for himself instead.

There are only three sources of data:

  • Clients – Confidential until the client says release it, even in the face of government pressure (just good professional ethics).
  • Contract – Limited to by the terms you used for access. If you don’t want to agree to the terms, find another means of access. (falls under the “don’t lie” principle, governments do enough of that for all of us)
  • Other – Should be shared as widely and often as possible.

The World-Check database clearly falls under “other” and should have been shared as widely as possible.

Thomas Reuters and similar entities survive not because of merit or performance, but because people like Chris compensate for their organizational and technical failures. The public interest is not being served by preservation of a less than stellar status quo.

Not to mention leaking the list would create marketing opportunities. The criminal defense bar comes to mind.

Don’t tease, leak!

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