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24 October 2008, 13:55

BBC keeps detector vans secure through obscurity

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The Information Commissioner's Office has ruled that the BBC can keepPDF the details of the detector vans, used to enforce payment of the TV licence, secret.

The ruling came as a resolution of a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request made in 2006, which asked the BBC, with reference to TV detector devices, "How many do you possess?","How often are they deployed?" and "If TV detection devices exist, please could you provide me with their technical specifications". The BBC maintained that it was not in the public interest to disclose that information as it would "damage the public’s perception of the effectiveness of TV detection vans". It also suggested that people could analyse the technical specifications and find ways to evade detection.

The Assistant Information Commissioner considered the public interest and concluded that not releasing the information would keep the cost of enforcement activities down and in turn allow more money to be spent on programming, which would be a benefit to TV licence payers. On that basis, they informed the BBC that the exemption to the FOI would be maintained.


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