As part of my protest against ACTA I signed up to the fightforthefuture.org web page, and asked them to contact my MEP on my behalf, which they did.
Now that ACTA has been defeated, Paul Nuttall, UKIP MEP for the North West and UKIP Deputy Leader, emailed people who had protested, en masse. (I am in Devon in the South West, so he is not my particular representative).
I include the email below, but the interesting part is the forwarded message underneath, which includes a list of all TWO THOUSAND AND TWENTY ONE people who signed up…
33 minutes after receiving the email I received another from Paul Nuttall requesting the recall of the email, a little late really.
I frequently hear from career Euro activists that the Members of the European Parliament have little or no IT expertise and support. Everyone has mixed up CC and BCC at some time or another, but using CC or BCC to send an email to 2,021 people in the first place is poor solution to a common problem. It's the kind of thing that your IT department should be able to sort out for you, by creating a mailing list with a single address whose membership MEPs can manage through a browser.
Update: Lee, who submitted the item, clarifies: "The email wasn't BCCd or CCd to the 2021 petitioners, the email that Paul Nuttall forwarded contained the list of emails in it's body.
Indeed it seems very much like this list of emails was used to create an email group, which Paul Nuttall then used.
He just made the very foolish mistake of forwarding an email containing peoples personal information, whilst saying how UKIP will defend UK citizens rights and privacy."
It's possible that some of the people whose identities were revealed in the email could face workplace sanctions for opposing ACTA (I know a lot of people in the entertainment industry who privately oppose many of their employers' initiatives), so revealing their identities is a potential big deal.
It would be great to see a free/open web service that let people securely send messages to their MEPs, and then also made it easy for the MEPs to reply to them, individually or as a group. If the European Parliament and individual MEPs' parties and staffers can't handle interaction with their constituencies, then the constituents may have to handle it for them.
Update: I received this from Paul Nuttall's office:
May we please ask that you publish our response and apology – and we of course also extend that apology personally to you.
Please find the statement below.
Office of Paul Nuttall
As a libertarian party we are in favour of internet freedom.
We oppose ACTA in its entirety and we are currently campaigning against the EU-Canada trade deal (CETA) which contains many ACTA-like provisions.
I can only tell you the simple truth; I was seeking to distribute an email protecting confidentiality using the bcc button but in error sent it out with a full list of emails attached.
I can only apologise, explain that it is the kind of mistake all too easy to make with modern technology and assure you that I have taken every step I can to rectify the situation since it happened.
We did not originally gather the data, nor did we intend to send it round. We did "bcc" (blind copy) all correspondents to protect identity. The list was sent to us and a number of other MEPs from an anti-ACTA campaign group which invited us to correspond with the list of contacts they had provided.
I hope you will accept our sincere apologies and can understand that this is the kind of thing that can happen to anyone.
Office of Paul Nuttall