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BBC Criticized For Snooping Under RIPA Powers 183

Posted by samzenpus
from the let's-see-what-you-got-there dept.
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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BBC Criticized For Snooping Under RIPA Powers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 23, 2012 @05:49AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 23, 2012 @05:59AM (#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.

  • Hrm (Score:4, Informative)

    by mrbester (200927) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @06:13AM (#41092349) Homepage

    "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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 23, 2012 @06:19AM (#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.

  • by blackest_k (761565) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @06:39AM (#41092485) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 23, 2012 @07:17AM (#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".

  • by khallow (566160) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:14AM (#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.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @08:31AM (#41093321) Journal
    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.

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN. -- Alan Perlis

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