Database Of 1.8 Million UK Postcodes Leaked Online

A database comprising 1.8 million Post Codes with their exact geographical locations as well as grid references has been tipped up online by the infamous website Wikileaks.

The website is reportedly publishing a database containing 1,841,177 post codes “together with latitude and longitude, grid references, country, district, ward, NHS codes and regions, Ordnance Survey reference, and date of introduction”.

The 240MB zipped file does include a large number of post codes in a plain text file in comma separated form that runs to around 100,000 pages and was last updated on 8 July 2009.

However, the source of the leaked file is still not known, but it doesn’t include any names or addresses unlike the Royal Mail PostCode Address File (PAF).

Information campaigners have long been urging the Royal Mail to make PAF data freely available, but they are yet to receive any positive response.

The Royal Mail charge a heavy license fee for access to the database including the data on full name and addresses, and it reportedly raked in £1.6 million from licensing the database in 2007, the Guardian reported.

Responding to the reports of leaked database, a spokesperson for the Royal Mail said the database is akin “to something we provide”, and that the firm is “looking into it”.

Our Comments

What makes this leak rather different is that it is not strictly speaking illegal since it is information that is freely available (e.g. Google Maps contains some of this same information). But the fact that it has been already harvested and compiled into a database is what makes it not only useful but also highly controversial.

Related Links

Database containing 1.8m UK postcode locations leaks online

(The Register)

Full UK postcode location file turns up on Wikileaks: is that useful?

(Guardian)

UK postcode database leaks online

(PC Pro)

Geocoded PostCode Database Leaked Online

(PocketGPSWorld.com)