Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Innovative or Intrusive?

Included is page 77 of the 2002 “Service Provision Agreement for the Management of the Enforcement, Collection and Administration of the Licence Fee” agreed between the British Broadcasting Corporation and Capita Business Services Ltd. We at TV Licensing Watch have described this implementation of this document as one of the most odious examples of database based enforcement in existence. Looking at the data mining exercises proposed in the extract below and giving them even a moments’ thought people will quite rightly wonder at exactly what is going on and why it is going on.

Why, for example, is it necessary to mine data completely unconnected with a private media business called the BBC to fund the BBC? All the data gathered above has been gathered for purposes other than funding the BBC. It should therefore only be used for the actual non-funding of the BBC purposes for which it was originally gathered. As the, “Service Provision Agreement”, points out, “This information is uniquely available to Capita.”. It should be open to question as to whether Capita Business Services should even be thinking of using the “information uniquely available to Capita” for implementation in connection with the” enforcement, collection and administration of the licence fee” never mind actually using it to do so. Also bear in mind that Capita Business Services also maintain databases and sources of information “uniquely available to Capita”. Legitimate questions arise about how is that being exploited?
It is a seemingly insignificant piece of evidence of a culture of database function creep that has become a feature of what has become known as the “Surveillance Society” or “Surveillance Britain”. As for the exploitation of “commercial data sources such as those provided by Experian”. Bearing in mind that Parliament has determined that the BBC tv licence cannot be subject to consumer credit agreement. The use and exploitation of “commercial data sources” is unspeakable. The main thing to be borne in mind about all this data mining is that it is to “enforce” the funding of the BBC, a media business through tv licence revenue. “enforce” means to force on people something they do not want. What has happened to freedom of choice in the UK, a nation that claims to have "the Mother of Parliaments", a so-called democracy?

If people do not want to fund the BBC then they should be allowed not to. If people want to fund the BBC they should be allowed to. The imposition of the current tv licence regime and the abuses of contractors under the cover of the BBC TV Licensing™ contract are unacceptable and should have no place in a society that purports to be free and democratic.
Under the sub-heading, “Data”, the more observant will have noticed references to “evaders” and “potential evaders” and their “identification”. Not everyone who is unlicensed is an “evader” or even a “potential evader”.

Amongst the unlicensed is a significant proportion of the adult population of the United Kingdom who are law-abiding and have no wish or desire to fund the BBC. Or indeed, to watch and record live broadcast television. Who want to be left alone behind closed doors in the privacy of their own homes to be able get on with their lives unmolested. Who also see no reason to go grovelling to the BBC and Capita Business Services to spell out what they do in the privacy of their own homes and self-report (which they are not obliged to do by the way). They also see no reason why they should have to explain anything to door hammering tv licence sales persons employed by Capita Business Services who, it seems, will try to trick and bully them into signing so-called “Prosecution Statements” (record of interview forms that provide sufficient evidence against the interviewee such as to give a realistic prospect of successful prosecution of that person) by deceits such as “it’s only to update their records” so that they can achieve the” Target Number of Prosecution Statements”. People only learn their error when they receive the summons and see the prosecution statement they unwisely signed. The more we at TV Licensing Watch seem to learn about the BBC tv licence the more unacceptable it seems to become.

Just how much does a permit from the BBC for people to watch and record live broadcast television actually cost? TV Licensing Watch cannot be alone to have formed the notion that, in terms of individual civil liberties and data privacy, too much by far.

The value of domestic cctv surveillance and handheld video camera can prove invaluable in gathering evidence of the serial abuses and misdemeanours perpetrated by employees of Capita Business Services under cover of the BBC TV Licensing™ contract. TV Licensing Watch advise anybody who has the misfortune to have face to face dealings with Capita Business Services TV Licensing™ to make an audio-visual record of those dealings in their entirety covertly or overtly with cctv and handheld video cameras.

For people who have not exercised their right to remain silent, TV Licensing Watch advise anybody who has had the misfortune to have face to face dealings with Capita Business Services TV Licensing™ and have received a summons as a consequence to contact a licensed law practitioner if: there is the slightest discrepancy between the actual situation regarding viewing habits and/or what actually happened during the interview compared with what has been written on the TVL178 Record of Interview self incrimination form.

1 comment:

  1. A thoughtful and thought-provoking piece. The document you quote explains why students are particularly being targeted just now:

    "We are proposing the use of a number of innovative data sources to assist in the identification of evaders and potential evaders particularly in the student population."

    Students are specifically identified as evaders and potential evaders!

    The Second Principle of the Data Protection Act states:

    "Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes."

    Not only is Capita flouting this Principle - using data it obtains for other purposes in its TV licensing activities - which is bad enough, but the BBC is fully complicit in this. They will justify it with the mantra "prevention and detection of crime" (which the DPA allows), the CRIME being, of course, watching TV!

    The whole thing is monstrous, and you do well to publicise it.