Bigot List

Term used to describe a list of company employees who know key trade secrets, know-how, or business secrets, typically maintained by the human resources department in conjunction with the legal department. Bigots lists are also common in the planning and negotiation of public company mergers, to help control insider trading as well as the consequences of an abortive acquisition bid.

The origin of the term was World War II during operation Torch, the Anglo-American landings in North Africa, when, to disguise the destination of convoys in the direction of North Africa, they were openly described as on course for Gibralter; the code word bigot was derived from the false routing description, “to Gib[ralter]” in reverse, i.e., biGot. The code word was used to describe those Allied officers who were allowed to know the true destination and location.  Later, in 1943-4 as the Normandy invasion was being planned, those Allied officers who knew the secrets of location and time were codenamed “bigots,” an unusual and odd, but not totally unnatural word to use in conversation. The Bigot list was maintained so that Bigots could know who was cleared for access to the information and which colleagues they could discuss the invasion plans with. Surprisingly, an apocryphal story has circulated in subsequent decades that BIGOT stood for “British Invasion of German Occupied Territory” – the story is unlikely, first because the use of an acronym that suggests its meaning is hardly good security practice; but second because the term was only associated with Anglo-American-Invasions (North Africa, Normandy.)

To make a Bigot List effective it is important that persons on the list be kept informed of who amongst their immediate colleagues have been added to the list, so they know who they can discuss any issues with. Generally persons sharing the same office space should be included on the list. A major weakness that can arise in such lists is a failure to include support personnel such a secretaries, clerks, etc. who may be able to surmise what certain activities suggest, or may indeed in the course of their duties have access to individual bigot’s diaries, email, files and correspondence.

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