Blog exposes BNP membership, Google map created
You may be a proud BNP supporter or you may prefer to keep it a secret. After all, you might be a teacher or a policeman, and that sort of thing is usually frowned up for so many reasons; in fact membership of the party is banned by the Police. So today isn't a great today for data protection or BNP members for that matter, after a full list of activists, members and contacts was leaked online.
The blog in question was published by Google's Blogger and began circulating the media yesterday evening. It contains nearly 13,000 contacts by surname, and includes addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and in some cases their hobbies and professions, as well as the contact's availability in assisting the right-wing party. According to the Guardian, the list includes a small number of police officers, two solicitors, four ministers of religion, at least one doctor and a number of primary and secondary school teachers. Also included in the list, of which Bitterwallet has a copy, are advisers to local town councils. Some of the names that appear are thought to be contacts only; people who have had correspondence with the party, whether to support them, chastise them or whatever. The blog was removed at the insistence of the BNP party this morning.
The story brings to mind two points; the first being how easy it is to use a blog to leak personal information online and spread it like Californian wildfire; most data protection lapses result in hard drives or laptops going missing, but rarely does the information find its way into the public domain. The second point, which is something we were thinking last night, is that the data could be used to create an revealing Google Maps mashup, showing BNP membership across the UK.
And of course, as quick as you can think it, somebody can do it. Step forward Ben Charlton at spod.cx:
It seems a court injunction kept this quiet for some time, but the list has well and truly escaped. I thought it'd be cool to make a Google Maps mashup of the data. I extracted the postcodes from the member list and converted them into latitude and longitude co-ordinates, which are then plotted on the map.
Charlton is keen to point out, as are we, that the map does not pinpoint individual households, only postcode areas which can cover several dozen houses. Click through on the map above to reach Charlton's site and see the right-wing landscape of the UK for yourself.
The fallout from the story is unclear at the moment. Copies of the list are still available online if you know where to look (including one very well-established website) and one fear would be that anti-BNP protesters may take up their grudges with individuals, regardless of their relationship to the party. It'll also once again call into question the ease with which private data can be published online.