BNP membership list leaks – Google map mashup created
Last night, a full list of the British National Party’s members leaked out to the public at large. Obviously, that’s a huge data breach, as a person has a right to privacy of their political beliefs, but many believe the BNP to be an extremist organisation. Members of the BNP are banned from the police force, and they’re refused a platform in many students’ unions.
Aside from looking up family members, several enterprising geeks have been doing some scary stuff with the data. One of the most popular mashups is a Google map that displays where the BNP members near you live – though the map appears to have just been taken down. It was just based on postcodes, so it’s not accurate down to the household – just the general area. Even so, the addresses are in the full list, so it doesn’t take much effort to track down a particular person in your town.
I’m a little concerned. Even though I find the BNP’s beliefs abhorrent, and many of their members are very nasty pieces of work, I don’t think that any action against them beyond helping to prevent them from spreading their beliefs is justified. I have horrible images of people ‘hunting down’ members. That would be a terrible thing, especially as at least one person on the list has claimed that he’s no longer a member.
I couldn’t help but giggle, though, at some of the notes on individuals. Here’s a couple of gems – next to one person it says “member describes himself as a witch: potential embarrassment if active”. Next to another, it says “Will not be renewing 07 (objects to being told he shouldn’t wear a bomber jacket)”. Best of all? “Membership suspended 20.9.05 (inappropriate tattoo). Suspension lifted 27.09.05”.
In the meantime, Nick Griffin, leader of the party, has made a complaint to police that this publication violates both the Data Protection Act, and the Human Rights Act. Both are pieces of legislation that the BNP has said should be repealed.
Now that this list is in the wild, it’s not going back in the box, much to the disappointment of nationalist bloggers. The best thing that anyone can do is just to ignore it. Once again, a person’s poltical views are private. If they try and force them on you, that’s a different matter, but if that nice old neighbour that’s always leant you milk just happens to be on the list, then this is no reason to start treating him like Satan.
Let’s have some calm, and avoid hypocrisy over how we treat fellow members of the human race, yeah?
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i like this website
I’m not an employment law expert, but I imagine they’d be in a good position to claim constructive dismissal if the police force is using illegally leaked content to force resignation.
Tough one isn’t it?
It’s not so much her axe to grind that I have a problem with, it’s just the fact that it’s incredibly stupid. The reason people are worried about the list isn’t (necessarily) because they’re embarassed about their views, but because they likely reckon they will be shunned or worse by their community. In my experience people are rarely embarassed by their views because they believe them steadfastly to be ‘right’.
In conclusion, Jaqui, that was the very definition of kicking them while they’re down and doesn’t make you come across particuarly well.
Just to reiterate: I hate the BNP as a political party, but I find this an interesting debate in how far people are guilty of double standards in terms of free speech and a right to privacy.
I’m not convinced that there would be a problem. I’m no expert either, but it’s not the police’s fault that the information has come into the public domain. The policy is in place for a very good reason (to prevent racism in the police force) and I think it’s a far bigger can of worms if they’re allowed to remain in their position despite being avowedly racist.
Nicely written post, Dunc. Matches up with my own views on the subject pretty much exactly.
Out of interest though, do you think the members of the police on the list should be allowed to be fired based on it, given the police ban membership? Do you think that it’s permitable evidence given the way it’s been exposed is, in fact, illegal?
One more point on the subject – despite absolutely hating the BNP as many people do, I was really pissed off at Jaqui Smith’s comment on BBC News: ‘And she told the BBC News Channel she did not mind people knowing she was a member of the Labour Party, adding: “I wonder why it is that BNP members are rather more ashamed of their membership.”‘
That’s just so needlessly idiotic it’s unbelievable.
Given that at least one person on the list has already denied membership, it needs to be dealt with on an individual basis. I think any police officer who discovers that one of his subordinates is on the list needs to have a talk with that subordinate, ask them if they’re a member of the BNP, and if they are, they should be asked to resign. Simple, easy, and can be kept between and individual and his or her employer.
Jaqui Smith’s comment was rather needless trolling. She’s just grinding her own anti-BNP axe. She has every right to have that axe, but it doesn’t need sharpening on BBC news.