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Plan for iPlayer password not part of crackdown on licence fee dodgers


By Joe Nerssessian

Users of the iPlayer will need to enter a password to access the online catch-up service within the next few weeks, the BBC has announced.

The corporation denied the move was part of a crackdown on licence fee evaders, but said email addresses registered to an account may allow them to identify people using the service without paying.

From Thursday, viewers of the catch-up service will be notified with a message saying they "will soon need to sign in to watch" and encouraged to do so before the deadline in a few weeks.

The introduction of a login, which was revealed last September, is part of the BBC's plans to make services "more personal and relevant to you", said MyBBC launch director Andrew Scott in an online blog.

This includes tailoring programme suggestions to users based on previous choices and will allow people to start watching a programme on one device before picking up where they left off on their TV.

It comes after new rules were introduced last year which meant that viewers must have a TV licence to watch or download BBC programmes on demand through the iPlayer.

Mr Scott said the reason for making the changes "isn't about enforcing the licence fee - it's about giving you a better BBC and helping you get the best out of it".

He added the BBC would not be using "mass surveillance techniques or ask internet providers for IP addresses" to identify evaders. However, information provided "can help TV Licensing ensure that people are abiding by the law".

"By matching email addresses we may be able to identify someone who has told us they don't need a TV licence while at the same time having signed in and watched iPlayer," he said.

"So we will now use this alongside our existing enforcement techniques to help identify people who are watching licence fee-funded content without a licence."

Mr Scott said the BBC was "continuing to look" at whether a verification system was required for the iPlayer so non-licence fee payers can access content for free.

He added: "We know data privacy is really important to you - especially knowing how your data is being used and for what purposes. That's why we're being really transparent.

"Our stance is really simple. Wherever we collect and use your data, we will use it to bring you the things that matter to you - hidden gems from the BBC that you might not otherwise have found - and improve the BBC's services to make them the best they can be."

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