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 Both are pieces of legislation that the BNP has said should be repealed.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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