BBC accused of spying as it deploys vans to track internet usage

Posted On: 
6th August 2016

The BBC will use vans across the country to check what people are watching online, in a bid to catch those who use the iPlayer service without a TV Licence. 

The corporation has special dispensation to use the technology, which has only been available to crime fighting agencies until now.

Watching BBC TV shows online without a TV license will be illegal from September 1st.

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The BBC insisted officers trying to find those watching BBC programmes online for free would not be able to spy on other Internet usage.

The existence of the new strategy emerged in a report carried out by the National Audit Office (NAO).

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.”