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    I’m assuming this is just trying to scare people into paying the licence. If it isn’t then whatever method there using should clearly be fucking illegal.

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      It is illegal, but the government granted the BBC special permission to do it.

      Such permission (afaik) is normally restricted to intelligence agencies and not broadcasters!

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      BBC denying it: https://twitter.com/bbcpress/status/762218984938889216

      Which makes sense. Surely having a mandatory login linked to your TV License number would be a far simpler, cheaper solution? I mean, I know this would easily be circumvented, come with its own set of privacy issues, but still… this story seemed bonkers.

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        Why is there a license fee? Why isn’t it just paid for by taxes as thr ABC is in Australia? It’s a public good.

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          The idea is that it reduces political interference with the BBC by the government. If the government controlled how much money the BBC gets as part of the annual budget, it could easily punish the corporation for making criticism of the government or reward it for supporting them, and do so every single year. By funding the BBC through a licence fee which is only renewed every ten years — twice as long as the life-span of a single government in the UK — it’s harder to do this.

          And indeed, it has mostly worked very well for many, many years. Practically everyone in the UK trusts that the BBC is neutral and unbiased; the suggestion that it is a propaganda network, as proposed by someone else in this thread, is normally the preserve of conspiracy theorists. In the last year there has been controversy about whether it’s really working as the BBC’s charter came up for renewal and they were criticized for ‘sucking up’ to the government to ensure their funding wouldn’t be cut. And in the last two or three decades there’s been a ‘submarine threat’ to the BBC which is not so much concerned with the content they broadcast, pro- or anti-government, but which is largely the result of lobbyists in the private broadcasting sector wanting the BBC weakened because it’s very difficult to compete with them, who have tried to get the government to cut their funding for that reason.

          But on the whole, the system has worked well so far.

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            I find it hard to believe that they can tell through an encrypted wifi that somebody is using an iplayer. The van is probably empty inside with a rod poking out to scare people.

            And why don’t they just give people who paid the license fee some kind of one time token to setup an account to use the iplayer anyway?

            Doesn’t seem very legit.

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              It’s more likely just a lie to make the public think that their fake “television detector” vans extend to online streaming too, without doing any actual technological work.

              I’d like to see how this ‘evidence’ would stack up in court; perhaps they would just use logs from iPlayer to show an offender’s IP address streaming the content.

              Either way, I still won’t be paying the license fee. If the BBC doesn’t fix their act they’ll become victim to torrenting – just about everyone I know knows how to bypass the ISP blocks on popular filesharing websites.

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                Yes, but most people won’t do that. I’m writing this from my phone as we speak.

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                In my country, they abolished TV licensing and repaced it with a tax that everyone (beyond a minimum level of income) pays whether they use the Yle services or not. I would prefer vans.

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                    To be fair, I actually think the BBC does a reasonable job of being unbiased. (The left complains it’s biased to the right and the right visa versa, which probably means they do an alright job). With that said, I will still likely never purchase a TV licence.

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                      It’s important to note that the BBC are (relatively) unbiased because of the license fee.

                      The government can’t punish/reward them; only the public can.

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                  I’m confused. How could you packed-sniff a secured network?

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                    You can see the size of the frames. If you control the transmitter, you can encode a detectable side channel.

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                      Did you mean packets, not frames? I hope it is not seen as nitpicking, the difference seems to be important here.

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                        If I’m not mistaken, what an observer can see are the 802.11 frame sizes. But the frame size will scale to accommodate the packet. Small packets will have small frames, large packets will have large frames.

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                    All things considered, the construct of life has become pretty dense if you ask me.

                    Detection vans can identify viewing on a non-TV device in the same way that they can detect viewing on a television set.

                    I.e. from inside of your home.

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                      Of course, requiring an account to watch iPlayer and requiring a TV license number to make an account is not an option.

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                        If I see one, im going to ask them how it works.