Today I bought a Freeview box as a gift for my sister in law. When paying for the item I was informed that I was required by law to provide the name and address of the property where the item was to be used. I was unhappy about this, as 1) It is not my property and 2) I would not necessarily be happy that a retailer's information was handled sufficently securely and subject to the safeguards under the Data Protection Act. I therefore protested and was informed that they would not be able to sell me the item, on pain of a personal fine to the person who sold me the equipment.

 

This seems to stem from the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1967 (as amended). It seems to me a wholly unneccessary law, given that we already have a TV Licensing Authority, whose job it is to administrate the database – not that of electrical retailers!

Why is this idea important?

The current law requires retailers and renters of TV receiving equipment to inform TV Licensing within 28 days of:

1The date of the sale or letting.

2The name and address of the buyer or hirer.

[F13The address of the premises where the set is to be installed

 

This thereofre means that personal data is being stored in the systems of various retailers, whose systems (unlike the licensing authority) may not conform to the requirements of the Data Protection Act. In short, its another database we're all on!

Additionally, Is it really the job of retailers to enforce the current TV Licensing arrangements? Surely this falls to BBC as the resposnsible authority under the Communications Act 2003. The current laws and arrangements therefore have a significant element of duplication.

Perhaps not the most significant law on the statute book – but to me really symbolic of the 'Nanny State' Britain has become!

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