BBC denies Wi-Fi 'sniffing' technology

The BBC has denied reports that it will be using Wi-Fi ‘packet-sniffing’ technology to crack down on those watching iPlayer without a valid TV licence.

The corporation has denied reports that from September 1st, a type of detector van will be in deployment to retrieve information from private Wi-Fi networks.

According to the Telegraph, the BBC has permission to use the Wi-Fi sniffing tech, stating that “the corporation has been given legal dispensation to use the new technology, which is typically only available to crime-fighting agencies, to enforce the new requirement that people watching BBC programmes via the iPlayer must have a TV license.”

The ‘sniffing’ vans, according to reports, could be using packet analysis to record the WI-Fi traffic across networks. However, the report does not specifically state that the BBC would use that method.

The BBC has vehemently denied the claims. Referencing the Telegraph article in a statement released yesterday, the Corporation said there had been 'considerable inaccurate reporting' about the TV licence crackdown. “While we don't discuss the details of how detection works for obvious reasons, it is wrong to suggest that our technology involves capturing data from private Wi-Fi networks.”

The Register claims it would be very complicated for this kind of large-scale surveillance to actually be successful, as the ‘packets’ on Wi-Fi networks from services such as Channel Four and ITV could look too similar to those from iPlayer.

At the moment, any person that records or watches live programming, whether it be on television or online, must buy a £145.50 TV licence. However, from September 1st 2016, iPlayer UK users will need a current licence and will have to pay the fee. This comes after the BBC’s victorious petitioning for the government to change the law.

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