Politics Technology

Enforcing the new TV Licensing rules

Further to ‘Thoughts on the “iPlayer Loophole”‘, The Telegraph this morning revealed that the BBC will be deploying a new breed of ‘detector van’ to catch those who don’t cough up.

The article says “the BBC vans will fan out … capturing information from private WiFi networks to “sniff out” those who have not paid”. It’s clear that the proposal is to capture information from home wireless networks – we are told the BBC has been given “legal dispensation” to use WiFi-sniffing technology “which is typically only available to crime-fighting agencies.”

Perhaps there’s a reason that this technology is limited to law enforcement. You know, Article 8 – privacy. Laws that were meant to protect us from terrorism such as DRIPA and the future Investigatory Powers Act are being abused to make sure that we pay up. It’s similar to the local councils that put surveillance on those who didn’t pick up after their dog under RIPA.

By using WiFi-sniffing detector vans on a mass scale, the BBC – and the Government – are removing the privacy of those who either can’t, or don’t wish to, pay £145 per year for a TV licence. While this may be acceptable to the public in the context of the fight against terrorism, we must question whether a corporation potentially losing out on £12 per month can really justify such mass surveillance.


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