Updated Several political websites using the NationBuilder platform have been down for almost 24 hours – perfect timing for the launch of the UK’s local election campaign.
The biz, whose marketing bumpf promises “software for leaders”, is used by a range of political parties, including the Liberal Democrats in the UK and Labour in New Zealand, as well as individual politicians and candidates.
The platform has been experiencing issues since yesterday afternoon, which were first reported on the NationBuilder status page at 9.36am PST (5.36pm BST) on 8 April.
Attempts to fix the problem – which the biz initially described as “issues reaching our database services” – included critical network maintenance that took all sites offline for about half an hour in the early hours of the morning in the UK.
However, not all sites got back up and running, with the platform’s latest update, posted at 00.01 PST, reading:
“NationBuilder has been experiencing an unexpected network issue, which is causing downtime for some nations. Our engineers are continuing to work around the clock to bring all customers back online.”
Users took to Twitter to complain about the length of the outage, which is affecting users across the world.
With all due respect — I had patience the first two hours. 12 hours? Really disappointed.— Brent Comstock (@brentcomstock) April 9, 2018
Sites that have been taken down by the issues include both of New Zealand’s major parties – Labour and the National Party – while in the UK, it is affecting far-right group For Britain, UKIP and the Lib Dems.
The timing is particularly bad for the UK parties, since today is the official launch of local election campaigns, set for 3 May – and the groups will be hungry for potential voters' data.
Ugh. Hope my site is restored soon, as I have an election in 6 days and constituents need to be able to access my site.— Dan Deuel (@DanDeuel) April 9, 2018
NationBuilder didn’t immediately respond to a request for further information on the outage, but in the US, one affected user, Brianna Wu – a software engineer and candidate House of Representatives in Massachusetts District 8 – speculated on the cause.
Have just been officially notified that our @NationBuilder campaign site is down.— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) April 8, 2018
I don’t know if this is yet another DDoS attack by the Alt-right, or wider server issue. But in the meantime, you can donate here.https://t.co/8U3KpkOhjP
Meanwhile, one UK MP who uses NationBuilder (but still has a functional site), is Harriet Harman, who had a different website drama unfold this weekend.
The Labour member was this weekend revealed as the subject of a cyber “prank” back in 2008, when Kemi Badenoch – now a Tory MP tipped as a rising star in the party – reportedly managed to gain access to her site, and “changed all the stuff in there to say nice things about the Tories”.
According to a report in The Daily Mail, a source in Tory HQ said that Badenoch didn’t do any “real hacking”, but instead “guessed the password”.
Harman said she had received and accepted an apology:
.@KemiBadenoch has written to me apologising. I have accepted her apology.— Harriet Harman (@HarrietHarman) April 8, 2018
*Total Inability To Support Usual Politicking
Updated at 1145 BST to add: The NZ and UK sites appear to be back up. NationBuilder said on its status page: "Our engineers have since resolved the networking issue that caused the downtime, and are monitoring our systems around the clock to keep you up and running. Imports and tag sharing remain paused for the time being."