If you don’t live in the UK, chances are that you don’t know who the BNP (British National Party) are.
The group has been no stranger to the newspaper headlines in the past, and tomorrow it is likely to find itself gracing the pages of the popular press once more because its membership list has been posted on the internet.
According to The Daily Telegraph, publication of the list has caused panic amongst members – many of whom are concerned about reprisals from the general public.
The newspaper also reported that the name of a serving policeman is on the list, even though police officers are banned from joining.
In a statement BNP leader Nick Griffin, himself not unused to being embroiled in controversy, promptly issued a statement on the BNP’s website confirming that the membership list was essentially genuine, and blaming former staff of “treachery” for stealing the information.
Although the BNP says it is taking legal action against internet service providers hosting the material, it’s all rather too late for that. The cat is out of the bag, and anti-BNP activists will surely repost the long list of names, addresses and phone numbers of BNP members to other websites and message boards.
Nick Griffin’s message to his members attempts to raise bravado saying “It’s water off a duck’s back to the stout hearts of the British National Party. Let’s enjoy the publicity bonus!” but party supporters are surely going to feel extremely uncomfortable about their personal details being publicised on the internet in this way.
All organisations need to take great care over the information they collect about their staff, partners, customers, and – in this case – members. If strict rules and policies are not in place controlling the access and distribution of the information then it could be your company which is next brought into disrepute.