Times Online reported last week (“BNP leader ‘paid for UKIP member list'”) that British National Party leader Nick Griffin is to be investigated following an accusation that he paid for a database containing the names and addresses of thousands of members of the rival UK Independence party for just £500. The list was reportedly used for fund-raising purposes in the run-up to the European elections in which the BNP secured two seats.
Datonomy, naturally curious to see the outcome of the Information Commissioner’s Office investigations, recalls the time when politicians were accused merely of buying votes. It seems now that buying voters’ data may be by far the more profitable course — and a source of great discomfort to supporters of UKIP who may have thought twice about joining that party if they felt there was a risk that their details would be passed on to the BNP. One further point to consider is whether the protection of voters and the conduct of elections, both of which are regulated, are sufficiently joined-up that there should be no practices involving the acquisition, possession and use of data for political and electoral purposes which fall between the two sets of regulators.