Times Online; To link or not to link?

News Blog – Times Online – WBLG: To link or not to link?: “To link or not to link?

Zaffar from London left a comment after reading the Times Online report on the leaking of the BNP membership list. He wrote: ‘this is a joke read this article typed in google got the list in seconds’.

You can quibble with his punctuation, but not with his logic. Anyone could Google the phrase ‘BNP members’ and get the list too, although the original weblog on which it was posted has been taken down.

But The Times decided not to link to the list, even though we often do link to material without taking that as some kind of endorsement.

There were various reasons for the decision, most of them expressed in other comments on our various online reports. Firstly, BNP members have as much right to privacy as anyone else. Secondly, last time we checked it was still a free country: there is no law against membership of the BNP.

It is also a particularly emotive subject. One reader bragged of having spent his evening making prank phones calls to those on the list. A couple of others said that they had found friends or neighbours on it – and had already taken the offenders off their own Chrismas card lists.

Both on Times Online and and on various blogs, BNP members expressed their concern at the leaking of the list. They are not necessarily police officers – a job from which BNP members are explicitly banned. One, for example, runs a computer shop and is frightened that he will be put out of business.

The list is out there now, even if a Google search no longer throws it up. The anti-fascist campaigners and phone-prankers are having a field day. We don’t need to help them.

Posted by Times Online Newsdesk on November 19, 2008 at 11:05 AM in From the newsdesk | Permalink”

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