An anonymous hacker has posted personal data about six million Chilean residents on the Internet, highlighting wider privacy problems in the country.
The data was posted early Saturday morning on Fayerwayer.com, a popular Chilean technology blog.
The hacker, who calls himself "Anonymous Coward," posted three compressed files of data that included names, addresses, telephone numbers and taxpayer identification numbers for Chilean residents, said Leo Prieto, Fayerwayer.com's director.
A site editor spotted the data, posted in Fayerwayer's comments section, at 2 am local time on Saturday. He immediately removed the files and contacted Chilean police, who responded two hours later, Prieto said.
But over the following days the files started popping up on other sites including Google's Blogger, Prieto said. "There's never been anything like this," he said. "People are alarmed."
In a note accompanying the files, Anonymous Coward said he posted the databases to draw attention to the poor data protection measures in the country of 16 million people.
The files include tips on what to do with the data and how best to access it.
"If you're going to extract data from a server, it's recommended to make a script that doesn't connect directly to the server, but rather via [anonymous proxies]," the hacker wrote.
Anonymous Coward also claimed that the files include information on the daughter of Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. "Bachelet's daughter has a school pass, although it's not given to many people because their parents have earnings above a certain threshold," he wrote.
The data breach has been front page news in Chile, where it was first reported Sunday by the newspaper El Mercurio.
The publicity has focused the country's attention on both government IT security and also the country's lax privacy laws. For example, Chile's department of elections sells voter data including gender, name, address, nationality, date of birth, and information on disabilities.
Voter registration information is also sold in the US, but it can be used only for political purposes. In Chile there is apparently no such restriction.
Before his site became the centre of this public firestorm, Prieto said he had no idea that his data could be sold. "There's no such thing as private information in Chile," he said.