The BBC will deploy vans and trackers across the country to check what people are watching online at their homes. This effort is aimed at bringing an end to some by-pass procedures which allow people to illegally use the iPlayer service without subscribing for a TV License.
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Latest reports confirm the corporation has secured legal rights that permits using of vans equipped with WiFi tracking devices on home networks.
The use of this technology was before now, available only to the police and crime fighting agencies. Good step in the right direction for BBC, as this crackdown will help the organization fish out those who are avoiding the £145.50 licence fee.
According to Manchester Evening News, The £145-per-year BBC TV licence is only currently needed for those who watch live television, but the changes mean that anyone who chooses not to buy a licence can no longer legally watch BBC programmes live or programmes on demand, including watching BBC iPlayer through another provider such as Sky or Virgin.
It applies to using BBC iPlayer on all devices including a smart TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, digital box or games console, although the changes do not affect non-BBC on demand services such as ITV Player or Netflix.
Watching BBC TV shows online without a TV license will be illegal from September 1st.
Though citizens are bemoaning that such rights given to the corporation, is a violation of privacy, BBC have insisted that “officers trying to find those watching BBC programmes online for free would not be able to spy on other Internet usage”.
The BBC was empowered by law to carry out surveillance of those avoiding the licence fee by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), passed in 2000, City AM reported.
The act has been controversial. As BBC Bitesize explains: “There are a number of people who regard the RIPA regulations as excessive and a threat to privacy and civil liberties in the UK.”
However, the BBC has said it will not be able to snoop on the internet history of viewers, and it has also said it will not be digging into its record of computers that have gone onto the iPlayer website to find fee dodgers.
The existence of the new strategy emerged in a report carried out by the National Audit Office (NAO), Politics Home reported.
It shows that TV Licensing, the corporation’s licence-fee collection arm, has developed techniques to track those watching television on laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.
Sir Amyas Morse, the comptroller and auditor general of the NAO, writes in the report: “Detection vans can identify viewing on a non-TV device in the same way that they can detect viewing on a television set.
“BBC staff were able to demonstrate this to my staff in controlled conditions sufficient for us to be confident that they could detect viewing on a range of non-TV devices.”