The BBC will snoop on your WiFi to detect iPlayer users
The BBC could snoop on your WiFi to detect iPlayer users.
Published: 8th August 2016 | Source: The Telegraph |
The BBC could snoop on your WiFi to detect iPlayer users
After September 1st users of BBC iPlayer will be required to have a TV License, meaning that they will need to pay a total of around £145 per year to watch BBC programs on demand, as well as live.
In recent years a lot more people are moving from traditional television to online services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, using online services like BBC iPlayer and 4OD for channel exclusive programs. With this new change to TV licensing a lot of British "cord cutters" will be forced to buy a TV license.
Now it has been claimed by the Telegraph that the BBC have new plans to equip TV licence surveillance vans with equipment which will allow them to snoop on private WiFi signals, enabling them to detect if a household is using BBC iPlayer online without a License.
It is suggested that the BBC will be using a technique called Packet sniffing, which will allow them to watch passing traffic in wireless connections without the need for hacking or breaking the signals encryption. The BBC will know what size packets from BBC iPlayer will be, so they will simply need to compare the data collected from private WiFi with known BBC packet sizes to determine if a household is accessing BBC iPlayer.
Please note that this means that the BBC would not be able to see what is on your WiFi or gain any information regarding any of your activities online, provided that this information is true to begin with. One other thing to note is that this means that they will not be able to detect data outside of WiFi, so people could, in theory, avoid detection by using wired internet.
At this time it is unknown exactly how the BBC will detect is anyone is using BBC iPlayer falsely, as this WiFi snooping claim is simply based on the provisions of the snoopers charter. The BBC has already stated that they will not be "capturing data from private WiFi networks". Below is the BBC's official statement.
There has been considerable inaccurate reporting this weekend about how TV liscensing will detect people breaking the law by watching BBC iPlayer without a liscence. While we don't discuss the details of how detection works for obvious reasons, it is wrong to suggest that out technology involves capturing data from Private WiFi Networks.
All in all, this goes to show how willing both lawmakers and the BBC are to turn a blind eye to the privacy of the general public. Typically this kind of data interception would be illegal but the BBC now has special privileges under the Investigatory Powers Act, more commonly known as the "Snoopers Charter", in order use these kinds of investigation methods. This does not mean that the BBC will be using these methods, simply that they could.
In all likelihood, the BBC will be using different methods to detect those who are illegally using BBC iPlayer, as there are plenty of other ways that the BBC could detect whether or not people are using BBC iPlayer, like simply asking your ISP for relevant data.
In this day in age, a TV license represents bad value when compared to something like Netflix, with Netflix costing less per month to own and providing users with full control over when and how they plan on viewing their content.
In my honest opinion, the BBC should move to an ad-supported model like all other television services within the UK, as right now a TV license is required to watch all UK TV, despite the fact that only the BBC are supported by the TV license.
You can join the discussion on the BBC's plan to snoop on private WiFi after September 1st on the OC3D Forums.