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BBC Criticized For Snooping Under RIPA Powers

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the let's-see-what-you-got-there dept.

Government 183

judgecorp writes "The BBC and other UK public bodies have been criticized for excessive and secretive use of snooping powers granted under RIPA (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act). The act allows the BBC and other to request information on suspected criminals, but it has been over-used, and used covertly according to critics. From the article: 'The BBC said it had not been secretive about how it was using RIPA powers. “The BBC uses Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act for the detection of television licence evasion alone,” a spokesperson said. “It is only used as a last resort once other enforcement methods have been exhausted.The reason we do not release more details on how and when it is used is to ensure people without a valid TV licence don’t use this information to their advantage when attempting to avoid detection.”'"

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183 comments

In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092167)

In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ?

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092195)

They don't have commercials on the BBC though.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092205)

It's worth it to have the BBC. Seriously.

When V for Vendetta came out, I was watching it and thinking "Curfews? Meh. Government sponsored rape squads? Yawn. You call this a dictatorship? ...wait a minute, they've replaced the BBC with US-style propoganda TV? The bastards!"

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093185)

> It's worth it to have the BBC. Seriously.

Yeah, I just love the pro-Islam pro-Labour, pro-Europe scientifically illiterate propaganda they pump out.

Remember kids: you don't need a TV licence even if you have a TV. Don't answer the door to their sales operatives ("enfarcement officers"), don't open or respond to their junk mail - just like you would any other company trying to sell you a product you don't want.

You're under no legal obligation to communicate with Capita / TV Licensing in any way, nor can they prosecute you unless you're daft enough to incriminate yourself by letting their salesman into your house and signing a confession for him. Their goons have no legal right of entry to your property and detector vans are a myth - the few that do exist have never been calibrated and never relied on in court.

Check out http://www.bbcresistance.com/ [bbcresistance.com] for more information.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093279)

The BBC are as bias as any source and there is little difference when you flip between BBC news and Sky news for live broadcasts. The license fee does introduce some interesting programs, but I'd much rather they stood on their own two feet. Moreso, I'd much rather I could sub to HBO programs without also paying the BBC and ton of other sky channels in the process.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (5, Insightful)

InEnacWeTrust (1638615) | about a year ago | (#41092217)

Yes, and in return, you have one or several channels that are rely less on advertising resources for their survival. You also get news that is written more by real journalists and less by corporate bullies with political agendas (yes, I'm talking about Fox)... while still be independant from their government. You also get shows and other stuff that would not be considered mainstream enough to make money... Some countries decide that it's worth it to have some sort of tax on everybody to promote/create/garantee that sort of stuff. You have the right to disagree of course.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092273)

It must be great if someone is rich enough that paying the TV license is a moot point when it comes to affordability. However, whether or not there's exemptions for the poor, for those near poor it can be a burden I imagine. Why don't they just subsidize the revenue needed by shifting to a graduated income tax? Just get rid of the TV license. I imagine it'd be more cost effective to have one less method of taxation. Plus, I subscribe to the idea that communication should be tax-free.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092365)

"...Why don't they just subsidize the revenue needed by shifting to a graduated income tax? Just get rid of the TV license. I imagine it'd be more cost effective to have one less method of taxation...."

Yes, it would be much more cost-effective. If you only interested in making a profit. But that's not the point.

Ever since Lord Reith, the BBC has carefully guarded its independence. Do you think we haven't thought of funding through direct taxation? But The important (VITAL!) thing about the BBC is that it is NOT a government-run station. It is not beholden to government and dependent on a minister deciding to provide or withhold tax. That means that it can afford the huge and rare luxury of:

1 - not being commercial. Not only does that mean no adverts, it also means that unusual/experimental programs can be run depending on artistic merit alone, even if there is not an obvious market for them. Why do you think the BBC leads the world in development of novel entertainment?

2 - being able to criticise not only government policy, but ALL pressure and interest groups equally. This enables it to have balance, which no other broadcasting station can have. During WW2 the world listened to the BBC, because everyone knew that it would report stories accurately, no matter who was going to be annoyed...

3 - transmitting civilisation according to educated ideals. Lord Reith laid down the dictum that the BBC's job was "to inform, educate and entertain". In that order. No other funding system would be able to support that ideal.

In fact, what happens is that the British pay into a fund to maintain themselves and the rest of the world at a reasonably civilised cultural level. The BBC is neither commercial nor political in spirit. It is biased in favour of idealism. There is nothing anywhere else like it.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (4, Interesting)

BenJury (977929) | about a year ago | (#41092573)

As a fan of the BBC I wish all of this were true, unfortuantly its not quite. The BBC's budget is used as a politcal weapon. The Conservatives would like to reduce the BBCs size and thus influence, something they were calling for before they were in power. Personally I'd summise that if News International hadn't scored such an amazing own goal recently (as a lot of influence was coming from them) that the pressure to do so would increase. Their main problem is that like the NHS, on the whole people quite like the BBC...

Also it's woth noting the World Service I'm pretty sure is paid for by the goverment rather than from the license.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (4, Insightful)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | about a year ago | (#41092589)

This. The BBC has been a mindless lapdog since Hutton.

Interestingly, under the much more authoritarian Thatcher, it remained a thorn in the government's side. (It required a decades or two to remove all the activist management and gradually replace them with stooges.)

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (2)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year ago | (#41092911)

Much of that thanks to the tireless efforts of the Daily Mail turning middle class opinion against it, for the very reason that it was a thorn in the Tory government's side.

If you can't kill it directly, go for a propaganda war. The Daily Hate Mail is very good at that sort of thing.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (1, Insightful)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about a year ago | (#41093149)

Interestingly, under the much more authoritarian Thatcher, it remained a thorn in the government's side.
Insightful? Really? How many cc tvs were operating under Thatcher? How many ASBO's were issued during Thatcher's time as PM? Oh, wait, only right wing authoritarianism is bad, left wing is ok.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#41093321)

When did we have left wing authoritarianism? We went from Thatcher (Conservative) to Major (Conservative) to Blair (New Labour - Old Conservative) to Brown (ineffectual) to Cameron (Conservative). The only one of those who could possibly be considered left wing was Brown, and he came in at the peak of the financial crisis and spent his entire term on the defensive.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (2)

orra (1039354) | about a year ago | (#41093269)

Also it's woth noting the World Service I'm pretty sure is paid for by the goverment rather than from the license.

This is no longer the case. One of the first things the Tories did when they recently got back into power was to "freeze" the BBC Licence Fee. From 2014, the BBC World Service will be funded from the Licence Free and not from the Government [fco.gov.uk]. The deliberate effect is to force bigger cuts onto the rest of the BBC.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092601)

"2 - being able to criticise not only government policy, but ALL pressure and interest groups equally. This enables it to have balance, which no other broadcasting station can have. During WW2 the world listened to the BBC, because everyone knew that it would report stories accurately, no matter who was going to be annoyed..."

Which they do so well that practically every ruling UK political party has accused the BBC of being biased in favour of the opposition. Including most recently our current abomination of a government. Basically because the BBC doesn't parrot what they are fed by the government they must be biased. Unlike the commercial media/press organisations that have been shown recently to have a disturbingly close 'relationship' with the UK government. It is just a shame this that will eventually be the death of the BBC as they get punished by those governments by having their funding cut. That and most people think that because they don't like *everything* on the BBC they shouldn't have to pay for any of it so are eager to support such actions.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#41093101)

Do you think we haven't thought of funding through direct taxation?

To be very blunt, I think your country is insane for letting the BBC have that kind of power over you. And yes, I don't think your country has thought about it. Else they would be funded differently.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (4, Informative)

blackest_k (761565) | about a year ago | (#41092485)

There is very little in the way of subsidy , being blind reduces the licence fee and i think there is a provision for pensioners. Other than that there are fines and imprisonment as alternatives to paying.

  One issue, often stated, with bundling into general taxation is that it would probably lead to the government deciding what is or isn't acceptable to broadcast, especially when it is something which shows the government in a poor light.

It would make sense for the BBC to encrypt their channels and eliminate most of the thorny issues concerning licensing. Since if you want to watch the content you would need to pay for a card to decrypt it. Unfortunately the BBC knows that the revenue base would shrink dramatically. It would also put an end to most of Europe having free access to the BBC via satellite. Interesting to the note the contrast between Britain and Ireland in broadcasting to it's neighbours, There is a certain propaganda value to pushing British Culture to foreign parts one not shared by the more neutral Irish.

Ireland already does encrypt it's channels delivered by satellite, you need to access them via a subscription to Sky TV or use Digital Terrestrial TV *. Either way you will not be able to view outside of Ireland, to be honest you wouldn't be missing much other than Fair City, and Irish News and Sport. The bulk of the broadcasts are from UK, Australia and the USA, and are widely available anyway.

Ireland still has the curse of TV licensing and since digital terrestrial isn't encrypted an excuse to carry on with it into the future.

* Analog TV shuts off in Ireland in a few months time.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#41093059)

It must be great if someone is rich enough that paying the TV license is a moot point when it comes to affordability.

It works out far cheaper than satellite or cable, and the license only applies if you're watching the broadcast in real-time. If you don't have a TV, and only use the iPlayer for catch-up, then you don't have to pay for the license.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092425)

You also get programs like Dr Who (recently revived, but going back to 1963) that is difficult to show elsewhere such as the USA - such as the center of the Slashdot Universe at times it seems - because it has to be cut so much to fit in all the channel's adverts that viewers then try to cut out themselves using channel hopping or a DVR recorder.
Or do you all really, religiously watch all the adverts? You should! It pays for the programming remember...
Despite this I thought having to pay for TV License because I had *any* device in my property that could receive live TV was a little silly, expensive and wasteful for all concerned. It seemed such an outdated and unworkable system in the days of large apartment blocks (difficult to ascertain whether an unlicensed apartment really had a TV in it) when the receiver could be a little USB device smaller than the PSU of my laptop. What to replace it with though?
For a few months I just used the BBC i-Player and watched the shows from the BBC - including back episodes of Dr Who - on my Ethernet wired Internet connection for 15UKP / month (oh, almost the same as the TV license then!).
ITV (that get no subsidy from the TV License) also had a lot of their shows free to watch (and advert free) on their WWW site. Again these aren't live-to-air but I remember watching some of the classic Sci-Fi series such as Space 1999, The Prisoner and UFO on there - I'd never have thought of watching or buying.

Re: (2)

davide marney (231845) | about a year ago | (#41092479)

The funny part is you apparently think the other news programs in thw US have "real" journalists. CNN? MSNBC? CBS? These guys trip over their own ideological slant every day

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092227)

You have to have a TV licence [wikipedia.org] for live TV. Most of the money goes towards the BBC and the TV, radio and other services it provides. The upshot of that is that BBC content is broadly well regarded quality wise and doesn't contain third party advertising. The down side is that some people don't see why they should have to pay the licence if they don't like the BBC's content.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092253)

In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ?

Not only in the UK, but in most civilised countries yes you pay a tv license fee.
BBC, Arte, Rai among others are all public broadcasters.
The reason behind this choice is that by having a public broadcaster you can ensure more or less objective news (among other things). Without a neutral (public founded) broadcaster you end up with a situation where the airwaves are at the mercy of private broadcasters (and they sure as hell don't care about democracy or telling news only infotainment). It sure beats the american way of doing tv. Private broadcasters that tell lies (cough cough fox news), and a semi-public broadcaster like PBS that has to ask, no beg viewers for donations.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (1)

TrueSatan (1709878) | about a year ago | (#41092345)

In the UK we a;lso have Channel 4 which is a QUANGO (Quasi Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation) meaning, in practice, that it is funded by a mixture of (mainly) taxation bolstered by advertising revenue. C4 content isn't nearly as good quality, on average, as that of the BBC but its existance shows that either model can fund a public broadcaster.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092497)

Right, the UK is well known for its neutral and professional journalism. *cough cough The Daily Mail cough cough* I hate to break it to you, but the idea for Fox News was imported from British newspapers.

As far as other quality programming, the BBC is shit compared to something like HBO or even many American networks. The BBC will never produce anything on the same scale or quality as The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Battlestar Galactica (remade version), or the Wire. Face it, television in the UK sucks. That is why so many Brtis turn to US programs.

Seriously, name one current British television product that Americans watch. Now try to name only 10 American television products that British viewers watch. American television is so far ahead of the rest of the world right now, it is ridiculous.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092951)

I hate to feed the troll, but Doctor Who.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (3, Interesting)

awrowe (1110817) | about a year ago | (#41093171)

Unbelievably, I couldn't give a shit whether Americans are watching it or not, but here are a few incredible television shows created by the BBC which spank most - I did say most - comparable American products:

  • Life on Mars
  • Ashes to Ashes
  • Top Gear
  • Downton Abbey (which I thought was rubbish, but I hate period drama - rave reviews from others though

As far as journalism goes, The Daily Mail is an embarrassment. It's an affront to journalism which is purely aimed at tacky sensationalism which has only the most tenuous relationship with the truth.

But this conversation wasn't about "the UK's" journalism, it was about the BBC's journalism, which - while it has some weaknesses I have been known to bitch about - can only be regarded as among the best in the world. The ABC in Australia is the only organisation I can think of with a comparable code of journalistic integrity and surprisingly, the only better journalism I've ever seen comes from Al Jazeera of all places.

If you are handing out challenges though, how about you name just one solitary US news outlet which can be trusted to reliably provide balance to the news stories it broadcasts? Just one. I'll wait.

By the way, did you enjoy watching the Olympics live on NBC?

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (4, Insightful)

robthebloke (1308483) | about a year ago | (#41093331)

Wonders of the solar system.
Wonders of the Universe.
Everything & Nothing.
Chemistry: A volatile history.
Planet earth.
The frozen planet.
Science & Islam.

The majority of the UK population thinks: global warming is a massive environmental disaster, that we're all descended from a common ancestor, and that the earth has been around for a few billion years more than the bible claims. The quality of the BBC's programming is largely to thank for that, and so i'm happy to continue paying my license fee. Compare any of the above programs with the typical output of 'the history channel', and I think you'll quickly change your opinion about the program quality.

The right to not watch TV (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | about a year ago | (#41092257)

> In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ?

No, we pay for the right to *not* watch TV ...

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (4, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year ago | (#41092265)

Only if you want off-air or live streaming. The BBC provides about a dozen advert-free channels of high-quality programming, and dozens of ad-free radio stations..

Compare this with the state of TV in the US, where you pay about the same amount of money (or more, depending on your cable or satellite provider) to watch ten minutes of adverts with two minutes of programme in between.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092563)

It would ok with me if you could avoid the TV license if you didn't use any BBC content, but the TV license applies to all live TV. Even if I only ever watch commercial TV, I still need to pay the TV license. Perhaps that made sense when there were only a few channels, but not today. It's just another one of the UK government's stealth taxes.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (4, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year ago | (#41092743)

It would ok with me if you could avoid the TV license if you didn't use any BBC content, but the TV license applies to all live TV. Even if I only ever watch commercial TV, I still need to pay the TV license. Perhaps that made sense when there were only a few channels, but not today. It's just another one of the UK government's stealth taxes.

The money doesn't go to the UK government, so I'm not sure how it's "just another one of the UK government's stealth taxes".

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (3, Informative)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#41093133)

The money doesn't go to the UK government, so I'm not sure how it's "just another one of the UK government's stealth taxes".

Well, I imagine a great majority of the other money that goes to the UK government doesn't actually go to the government either. It goes to people, businesses, and whatnot, that just happen to be, like the BBC, doing stuff that the government decided to force their citizens to pay for.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (2)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year ago | (#41093259)

The money doesn't go to the UK government, so I'm not sure how it's "just another one of the UK government's stealth taxes".

Well, I imagine a great majority of the other money that goes to the UK government doesn't actually go to the government either. It goes to people, businesses, and whatnot, that just happen to be, like the BBC, doing stuff that the government decided to force their citizens to pay for.

But that's the point - the BBC is independent of the government very specifically. The money collected for running it is not from or collected by the government. It is not a tax in that sense. It's set up this way to ensure that the BBC is not just a state-owned and controlled media arm of whatever government happens to be in charge at the time.

The TV licence is very definitely not a "stealth tax" in any sense of the definition whatsoever. It is not part of the government.

You might as well say that water rates are a stealth tax - the water companies are not part of the government, but you must pay water rates if you want to receive piped water into your house, and the collection of this fee is enforced by law.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (2)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#41093561)

But that's the point - the BBC is independent of the government very specifically. The money collected for running it is not from or collected by the government.

It most certainly is collected by government through both the law establishing the licensing fee, the government body that sets the fee, and the actual enforcement of nonpayment.

The TV licence is very definitely not a "stealth tax" in any sense of the definition whatsoever. It is not part of the government.

The TV license is not a "stealth tax" because it is overt. I do consider it a variation of a property tax since it is imposed by government fiat (on owning a working TV) not by contract.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#41093103)

It's just another one of the UK government's stealth taxes.

Wrong on two counts: first, everyone knows about it, and second, fee collection is enforced by the BBC, not by the police.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093387)

If it was enforced soley by the BBC, you'd be free to ignore their fines. Sadly, this is not the case.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year ago | (#41093221)

I don't think I've watched "live" TV in about 15 years. These days if there's anything I want to watch, I'll get it on iPlayer or grab a torrent, at a time that is convenient for me.

Re:In the UK you pay for the right to watch TV ? (2)

itsdapead (734413) | about a year ago | (#41092885)

...unlike commercial television, whereby anybody who buys a packet of breakfast cereal is forced to make a donation to the cost of TV, even if they never watch it... and when they do watch it everything is effectively censored to avoid upsetting the advertisers. Or do you think the money to pay for commercial TV is magically conjured up by the Invisible Hand Fairy?

In the USA you PAY for the right to watch TV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092983)

That's right. All those adverts.

And how many FTA only merkins are there, by the way? Because otherwise you're paying for the right to watch TV.

Not surprising (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092197)

Not surprising considering the BBC is a fucking government run broadcasting entity. The best they have ever done was that piece of shit Doctor Who. Had that piece of shit been released in America to begin with it wouldn't have lasted 4 episodes due to how fucking stupid it is. But that is the result of the fucking government involved. Then again, British Intelligence is a fucking oxymoron as all the citizens in the UK are so fucking stupid "Much like the fucktarded shitdot sheeple"

GO AHEAD FUCKING FLAME AWAY OR
WASTE YOUR GODDAMNED MODPOINTS
FUCKTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE

Inflammatory much? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092203)

The BBW report found seven bodies, including the BBC, Ofsted, the Royal Mail and the Office for Fair Trading, refused to disclose how often, for what purpose and what type of surveillance they have undertaken using RIPA-granted powers.

So they might not actually have done anything and they most likely haven't done anything inappropriate and they don't have any obligation to reveal what they've used the powers for, but let's pretend they're all doing evil things with it 24/7 because it makes for a better article.

Re:Inflammatory much? (4, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year ago | (#41092277)

That's about the size of it. It's slashdot, so they must maintain their rabidly anti-UK stance no matter what.

It's like they hate us because we're free, or because we keep pulling them out of the shit when they get embroiled in wars the US can't fight on their own, or something.

Re:Inflammatory much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092367)

they hate us because we're free

Yeah, could be that or...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_colonialism [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assange#Request_for_political_asylum_in_Ecuador [wikipedia.org]

and quite a few other nasty things. Nationalism is cute though.

Re:Inflammatory much? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092427)

Yes, this is about the general level of intelligence one expects on the subject, first raising stuff that happened hundreds of years ago to no one in living memory, then claiming some irrelevant current affairs come into it, and then claiming that not liking racism against your fellow countrymen is "nationalism", when the sad fact is that it's US nationalism that causes them to believe that *all* countries are inherently inferior (which does at least explain US foreign policy).

Re:Inflammatory much? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#41093293)

first raising stuff that happened hundreds of years ago to no one in living memory

So history is irrelevant

then claiming some irrelevant current affairs come into it

As is the present. So what does that leave us with - the future?

and then claiming that not liking racism against your fellow countrymen is "nationalism"

Despite the fact that, broadly speaking, white Britons and white Americans are from the same racial stock.

it's US nationalism that causes them to believe that *all* countries are inherently inferior (which does at least explain US foreign policy).

Well, ok, one out of four I guess.

Re:Inflammatory much? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092555)

Your example kind of argues against your point.

You do know why Assange is hiding in Ecuador, don't you? HINT: He's not afraid of "special rendition" to Weston-Super-Mare.

Re:Inflammatory much? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092653)

Bloody hell I would be.

Re:Inflammatory much? (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about a year ago | (#41092667)

The US relied heavily on Britain's remaining colonial outposts during the cold war. They were quite vocal, in back channels at least, about us not divesting ourselves of them. A lot of them were in very useful places for placing either USAF or USN bases, or sigint and elint stations. Places like Diego Garcia are officially under the control of the British Government, but if you went there all you'd find is a US Naval base and a notional British Government official presence.

Re:Inflammatory much? (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#41093129)

It's like they hate us because we're free

Free-ish. We're not as bad as the US, but we're getting there.

Re:Inflammatory much? (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#41093345)

It's like they hate us because we're free, or because we keep pulling them out of the shit when they get embroiled in wars the US can't fight on their own

Well, that's rich. When was the last time we needed you? What were the stakes? When was the last time you needed us? What were the stakes? The truth is that we just want you to share the ire of the world.

Re:Inflammatory much? (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about a year ago | (#41093529)

When was the last time we needed you? What were the stakes?

Afghanistan and Iraq: support in the UN and on the ground? Or special rendition flights refuelling in Scotland?

When was the last time you needed us? What were the stakes?

The Falklands: support in the UN and the purchase of a few missiles?

Re:Inflammatory much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092289)

Here was thinking it was the Television Licensing Authority that tracked down licensing violations. Still, it's better if you put "BBC" instead of "TVLA" because...well, because. The Daily Mail will be pleased!

Re:Inflammatory much? (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#41093113)

The BBC is the Television Licensing Authority.

Re:Inflammatory much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093353)

No they're not. The TVLA is the TVLA, the BBC is the BBC. The BBC may fund the TVLA, but that doesn't make the TVLA any more the BBC than it makes the company that runs the BBC canteen the BBC.

Re:Inflammatory much? (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#41092827)

1. We know these powers have been abused in the past, and more generally speaking power is always abused when given. That is why we need oversight of power.

2. There is no oversight in these cases. It isn't just the BBC, there are other unmonitored organizations. You are correct in stating that we don't know if there has been any abuse yet (although arguably TV Licensing merely using such powers counts), and that is the problem.

Re:Inflammatory much? (2)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#41093167)

So they might not actually have done anything and they most likely haven't done anything inappropriate and they don't have any obligation to reveal what they've used the powers for, but let's pretend they're all doing evil things with it 24/7 because it makes for a better article.

That is a fair assumption to make about power. And since the BBC isn't a citizen but a public organization with a bit of power, there's no concept of "innocent until proven guilty". If they're not willing to show what they're doing with that power, then I'm not willing to assume that they aren't abusing it. That's how I roll.

Glad we still don't allow that here... (4, Interesting)

Havenwar (867124) | about a year ago | (#41092325)

I haven't paid my TV license since I moved away from home some 10-15 years ago. Most of that time I haven't actually had a TV either, I get my media online these days... but the people who come asking why I haven't paid my license are rarely so easily convinced.

"Hello, I'm from 'Radiotjänst', we notice you haven't paid your TV license."
"I don't have a TV."
"Really? Can I look?"
"I don't have a TV, I don't have a TV card for my computer, or any other item that is listed as requiring me to pay your license."
"Are you sure, it covers quite a lot. If I can come in and have a quick look..."
"I'm quite sure, and no, you can't come in."

Then they'll usually call a few weeks later, because the inspector reports that behaviour as suspicious, so they call to ask. And then sometimes I get a letter as well, making sure I know that I seem to have 'forgotten' to pay my license.

Agencies like that are the basic reason why things like RIPA is a very, very bad thing. Guilty until proven innocent, and harassed until you confess whether actually guilty or not. Organizations with that mindset is what caused the inquisition, so we really need to keep them under check rather than giving them more power.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092451)

Just to provide a opposing anecdote:

Other than filling in a web-form every few years to say that I still don't own a TV, I haven't had any problems with TV licensing.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (1)

Havenwar (867124) | about a year ago | (#41092543)

Well, that experience can actually happen here in Sweden as well - if you live rurally. The licensing agency here actually pays a commision on any cheaters caught, and anyone can apply to be one of their checkers, so in any city there are plenty of regular people who apply and get a list of local people "who aren't paying" and then have a financial motivation to find these non-payers out as cheaters.

But even so, why is the burden of proof on you? As in why do you have to so to say "apply for an exemption"? That's wrong on so many levels, and harks back to that whole guilty until proven innocent thing. If you're from Sweden then I can pretty much guarantee that the only reason that they don't harass you further for it is because they don't have the means to do so. Maybe you don't fall into what they call a high risk demographic, maybe you don't live around any controllers, maybe you just haven't made any purchases of media equipment or such (which can be reported to them voluntarily by the store selling it.) They don't have the resources to go after everyone, clearly...

Giving them those resources would be a horrible thing.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093385)

I've fight off them in court this last decade 4 times and gone to kronofogden once. Most of those that work for radiotjänst are police aspirants. And it hurts to get into kronofogden it means that your credit is lost you can't get contract on apartment, loans not even open a phone line or internet access. And it's in a so called state with functional justice system, Assange is right in not trusting Sweden as even if innocent and proven so you get punished

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (2)

mrjb (547783) | about a year ago | (#41092467)

The rules are simple and clear: If you're not watching or recording live TV, you don't need a license. Catch-up and on-demand services are exempt. I don't have a TV and don't watch live TV. With an hour of content being uploaded to youtube every *second*, I've got all the content I want. TV is dead to me. I've had it with being treated like a criminal whilst I'm doing nothing wrong. What these thugs are doing is even worse than stopping and searching pedestrians at random and demanding to see their driving license: What they're doing is akin forcing pedestrians to drop by at the Driver's and Vehicle Licensing Agency periodically, and force them to waste their time to prove that they DON'T own a car, when perfectly acceptable alternatives are available. I wonder how this ever had a chance to be signed into law. These thugs should be put in their place and the whole TV license should be abolished.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#41092567)

The rules are simple and clear: If you're not watching or recording live TV, you don't need a license. Catch-up and on-demand services are exempt.

The rules are seldom that simple, and depend on the country you are in.

In some, any equipment capable of receiving over-the-air signals in the designated TV bands is what prompts the license. Actual usage is irrelevant.

How I know? I was forced to pay a license for using an RF modulator for connecting an old hobby computer with RF output to a monitor. The store that sold the modulator was required to report the buyers as owner of a license-requiring device.

Anyhow, that's not the real problem. The problem is the British Broadcorping Castration placing the burden of proof on the individual, and presuming he's guilty until otherwise proven. That's very wrong.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092619)

A licence is absolutely not required for the use you describe.

A licence is required only if equipment is installed to or used to receive broadcast television; regardless of what the equipment is capable of. I.e. no licence is required if a television is owned, but not used to watch broadcast television.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#41093263)

A licence is absolutely not required for the use you describe.

Again, this depend on the country and the legislation in that country.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#41093299)

What these thugs are doing is even worse than stopping and searching pedestrians at random and demanding to see their driving license: What they're doing is akin forcing pedestrians to drop by at the Driver's and Vehicle Licensing Agency periodically, and force them to waste their time to prove that they DON'T own a car

Even worse, it's more like turning up and searching your flat for keys to an auto... and taking note of anything else they might find.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092495)

Good for you. Gestapo scum like that should be shot if they so much as set foot on your property. How low can a human being sink, that he would accept a job like that?

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (1)

xiando (770382) | about a year ago | (#41092521)

RadiotjÃnst hassled me quite a lot back in 2005-2006. They called numerous times and asked stupid questions about "My television". They were asking in a way that assumed I actually had one in an attempt to make me admit I had one. I did not and I still don't. They eventually gave up when I actually told them that "You know, there is this brand new thing now that's called the Internet and that's far more interesting than the dull TV". RadiotjÃnst seems like a bunch of criminals imho.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (2)

Havenwar (867124) | about a year ago | (#41092643)

At one time they rang the door when I wasn't home. My girlfriend answered and said that we had a TV. Now apparently they aren't allowed to ask people who don't live there, but back then they rarely asked if the person that answered the door was a resident. Anyway, I got a bill, and tried to refute it. They refused. I ended up "admitting guilt" and then telling them I got rid of the TV because I didn't want to pay more, which meant I had to pay for only the week or soi I allegedly had it.

Haha, good story right, I got away with lying to them? No. Actually not. I didn't have a TV.

I did have a large monitor connected to my HTPC however, that for all intents and purposes looked like a TV. My girlfriend wasn't tech savvy enough to know the difference... The lack of tuner was the only "obvious" thing setting them apart, and that of course wasn't obvious since we never wanted to watch OTA programming in the first place.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092559)

for my computer

In Germany our local TV-tax harassment-brigade (GEZ) fixed that loophole: computers and smartphones are considered "novel" radio and television devices. They make sure you pay the tax even if you never watch any TV or listen to radio.

Around here you are forced to pay every last corrupt organisation (e.g. a private tax levied by corporations on blank media and reproduction equipment like printers) even if you never use their "services" and they then funnel huge chunks of that money to their friends instead of where it was supposed to go; like the good old-fashioned Mafia.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (1)

Havenwar (867124) | about a year ago | (#41092669)

I think they'd have trouble doing that in Sweden, although I know it's been suggested. The reason it would be hard is because if everyone ends up having to pay then it's legally a tax, not a license, and private organizations are not allowed to gather taxes... and taxes can never be earmarked for one particular thing, so they couldn't get the entire sum for their business, they'd have to take whatever chunk the government budgeted for them, regardless of how much less that is than what was collected.

As for the blank media fee, yeah, we have that too, and it's ridiculous. But I think that's more connected to the whole music/film industry corruption rather than the TV license question.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092593)

'Radiotjänst' is the Swedish version of the TV license. What does harassment from them have to do with the BBC abusing UK RIPA legislation?

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (1)

Havenwar (867124) | about a year ago | (#41092693)

Hmm, yes, what could one country's TV-license organization harassing their "clients" possibly have to do with another country's TV-license organization harassing their "clients" through the use of RIPA?

I think the main clue is in the title: Glad we still don't allow that here. If that's not link enough for you then my statement that giving these types of organizations more power is a bad thing cements the link.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092725)

You can withdrawn implied right of access to the TV Licensing organisation. Send them stating such and anyone acting on their behalf is trespassing if they come on to your property. This solved the problem for me after nearly 18 months of threatening letters and abusive inspectors.

Re:Glad we still don't allow that here... (1)

Havenwar (867124) | about a year ago | (#41092861)

Thank you for the tip, if I ever end up living on "my own property" I'll be sure to check up if that's the case. In Sweden however a lot of people - most I believe - live in apartments, which means they don't have to set foot on my property to ring my doorbell.

Hrm (3, Informative)

mrbester (200927) | about a year ago | (#41092349)

"The reason we do not release more details on how and when it is used is to ensure people without a valid TV licence don’t use this information to their advantage when attempting to avoid detection.”

Bollocks. The reason they do not release more details is that they don't want to.

Re:Hrm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092723)

It's like the myth of the TV detector van, a bit of fear and uncertainty helps keep people in line.

Re:Hrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093559)

The technology to detect what electrical devices are receiving (and transmitting) has been around since the 1950s. It was invented in England by Peter Wright, yes, that Peter Wright. It was used to sniff out cold war spies. Doing the same for a TV sets was trivial. Whether the BBC had vans beyond their prototypes in the field is a different matter, but the tech was certainly available all the way down to home electronic hobbyists.

Re:Hrm (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year ago | (#41092781)

The crucial thing is not to let Sky and its parent company know how they are checking who has licences.

Sky paid people to break ITV Digital's viewing cards and release "pirate" cards and the method for obtaining free TV without paying on the internet in order to drive ITV Digital out of business (it directly competed with Sky for Pay TV services), so I certainly wouldn't put it past them to "help" people dodge the TV licence to starve another competitor - the BBC.

Direct bribery and cosy relations with politicians are getting a little too high profile for them.

the problem with unchecked power (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092413)

once granted, it is always abused.

confused much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092449)

i think somebody is confusing the bbc with the tv licensing authority

Re:confused much? (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#41093393)

The UK government [bbc.co.uk] does it too.

The BBC became the Licensing Authority with responsibility for the administration of the television licensing system in 1991.

How does RIPA help them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092491)

If I don't have a TV license but I watch live TV, how will communications data help them to find out? It's not as if I'd need to contact the dodgy guy down the road who supplies licence free TVs, it doesn't require any special equipment or knowledge.

BBS NOW !! PBS NEXT !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092533)

And you don't want to fuck with PBS !! PBS makes the BBC look like a bunch of Dutch stoners !!

And be sure you pass the Dutch on the left-hand side !!

TV vs. Monitor (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about a year ago | (#41092547)

What defines a TV in the UK? If I have a 50" flatscreen hooked to my PC and never use it to watch TV (very common), does that mean it is not a "TV"? Is it anything with a tuner? It's harder and harder to get a large flatscreen without a tuner these days.

Re:TV vs. Monitor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41092641)

See my comment earlier. No licence is required to own a television (with any sort of tuner in it) so long as it is not used to receive broadcast television.

Re:TV vs. Monitor (1)

TomC2 (755722) | about a year ago | (#41092869)

See my comment earlier. No licence is required to own a television (with any sort of tuner in it) so long as it is not used to receive broadcast television.

Which therefore makes the enforcement of it ridiculous. We do not have a licence, and just to avoid arguments with the TV licencing stazi, the only TV we have in the house is disconnected from the aerial, all the channel presets de-tuned, and wrapped up in a bag where it cannot be used. But if I did have a set for watching DVDs etc, how can they possibly tell whether I use it for live TV or not?

TV Licencing do go round with "TV detector" vans, but I genuinely have no idea whether they really can detect TVs in operation or if it is just a deterrent.

It would be a lot simpler if there were some kind of technical means to stop non-licenced households watching TV - ie encryption with an access card, PIN code or something. I do not really understand why this is not done.

It also seems madness that I can completely legally listen to ad-free BBC radio, which is funded from the TV licence as well.

Re:TV vs. Monitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093415)

Which therefore makes the enforcement of it ridiculous. We do not have a licence, and just to avoid arguments with the TV licencing stazi, the only TV we have in the house is disconnected from the aerial, all the channel presets de-tuned, and wrapped up in a bag where it cannot be used. But if I did have a set for watching DVDs etc, how can they possibly tell whether I use it for live TV or not?

They can't tell unless you are caught watching broadcast television or you admit to doing so. Most prosecutions are brought against people who admit doing so. The licence sales people (see Capita's advertisements - they are sales positions and they earn a commission) have no special rights at all. If they visit your property tell them to leave and that they do not have permission to return. If they return they are trespassing - call the police.

Re:TV vs. Monitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093471)

TV Licencing do go round with "TV detector" vans, but I genuinely have no idea whether they really can detect TVs in operation or if it is just a deterrent

There aren't many of these around now. Most or all are just empty vans. They are often left parked at supermarkets or in busy town centre streets where lots of people will see them.

Re:TV vs. Monitor (1)

u38cg (607297) | about a year ago | (#41092947)

Anything with a tuner and anything that can be used to watch online media. You need to be using it; having a dusty TV on top of a cupboard is OK, but having on your living room wall attached to your PC is probably not.

Re:TV vs. Monitor (1)

xaxa (988988) | about a year ago | (#41093041)

A "TV" is something used to watch live television.

I've noticed all the angry posts above, refusing to let the person checking licenses in to the house (you don't have to).

However, not watching live TV is unusual, so I avoided all the hassle by letting them look at the TV, see that it very obviously was connected to 5 consoles and a DVD player (but no antenna, cable or satellite) and haven't heard anything more from them in two years.

Re:TV vs. Monitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093261)

2 years? That's how long they gave me before they started bothering me again with demanding letters.

Re:TV vs. Monitor (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#41093333)

I suppose you could disable the tuner if you were really worried about it, documenting the process. You'll want to buy a used (out of warranty) television for that, though.

I've tried to pay it... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093109)

I've tried to pay for a TV license here in the states just to be able to get Top Gear UK legally. Top Gear America is the worst. They refused me saying that I needed a UK address. I asked if I could just pick an address and was hung up on.

I tried again with an actual valid address but only had a credit card from the US and they wouldn't take it. I was asked why I wanted a TV license so bad and I said for the Top Gear show. I was told that it would be easier for me to download it from the internet and have been doing that ever since.

Nathan

Not a single comment about the actual story (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093497)

Brilliant. We have a story that mentions the name "BBC", and reading down the page, every single comment I can see is ranting either for or against the license fee.

And I'll bet that 90% of those putting their points across aren't even in the UK.

Well, I do live in the UK, and I've been to the US and other countries, and seen their TV. I know what I prefer. My opinion of the UK TV license is coloured by the fact that without it, we would have TV like the Americans. Frankly, I'd pay a lot of money not to suffer that.

New black? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41093535)

It seems totalitarianism is the new black... oh right.
Same old, same old. Carry on then.

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