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Albanian Data Breach Renews Press Freedom Debate

Albanian journalists broke news of the data breach of almost 900,00 Albanians, now involved in ongoing political investigation


May 11, 2021

NEW YORK—As Albania prepared for another national election last Sunday, in which the ruling Socialist Party won a third term, journalists at news site broke news of a data breach on April 11. Lapsi reported that they received a database containing personal information from thousands of people in Tirana, Albania, from an unnamed source. The news site claims the database’s information came from a government agency, allegations which the ruling party and Prime Minister Edi Rama have denied. Lapsi has not disclosed their source. Shortly after the story was released, police arrived at Lapsi’s offices with a court order from the anti-corruption prosecutor unit to seize electronic devices. The outlet’s journalists refused to comply, citing Albanian law that dictates that journalists’ sources should be kept confidential unless the information is necessary to corroborate a crime.

Teens for Press Freedom cofounder Isabel Tribe commented, “The government’s reaction to Lapsi’s news story detailing a data breach is very troubling as it calls into question the privacy and security of Albanian journalists’ sources. The Special Prosecution Against Corruption and Organized Crime Unit should not have jurisdiction over private media companies or their coverage. TPF backs the Albanian Helsinki Committee’s request to amend the law providing a loophole in the confidentiality of journalists’ sources on the basis that this clause contradicts the European Convention of Human Rights. We urge the European Court of Human Rights to act swiftly in condemning this encroachment on press freedom.”


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