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Database containing 1.8m UK postcode locations leaks online

Knock, knock. Who's there?

An alleged copy of the UK postcode list has tipped up on WikiLeaks.

The whistleblower site claims to currently be hosting a database containing 1,841,177 Blighty postcodes “together with latitude and longitude, grid references, country, district, ward, NHS codes and regions, Ordnance Survey reference, and date of introduction”.

The list is a 241MB plain text file that runs to more than 100,000 pages and was last updated on 8 July. WikiLeaks has zipped the database up to 20MB and made it available for download via the site as well as providing a fast BitTorrent version of the file that can be grabbed over at The Pirate Bay.

According to the Guardian the Royal Mail made about £1.6m from licensing the Postcode Address File (PAF) database in 2007.

This leak online isn’t that significant, however, given that it doesn’t contain the names and/or addresses of houses in each postcode that the PAF holds.

On the other hand, online availability of the PAF could prove a big blow to the Royal Mail, which has repeatedly ignored requests from freedom of information campaigners to publish the postcode database free of charge.

The Register asked the Royal Mail to comment on the leak. A spokeswoman at the firm told us “yes, we do know about it” and added that it would have a statement for us soon.

Campaigners have long argued that the PAF should be freely available to help businesses create services around the taxpayer-funded data, and while this leak might get a few wannabe-web entrepreneurs mildly excited, the real juicy postcode stuff remains locked behind closed doors - for now. ®

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