OK, I’ll bite.
In the three or so weeks since Lord Sugar launched YouView an army of detractors have queued to rubbish the platform and/or its chances of success.
First we were told it was “too late” and Smart TVs had already filled the gap. Ofcom’s figures showing Smart TVs are in just 5% of homes and not all are actually connected to the web quickly demolished that claim.
Then there were complaints that the launch box lacks WiFi, despite WiFi – with it’s ability to lose those quite important little packets of data – being a pretty bad way to push large amounts of video data around your home.
Because we know you like facts as much as we do, let’s allow ourselves to again note that the Sky+, Virgin Media’s TiVo and BT Vision’s set top box also lack native WiFi capability yet manage to provide Video on Demand content to users.
And now we have Shock! Horror! Outrage! at the ‘revelation’ that the YouView box will monitor your viewing habits and compile a list of every poor quality, tacky programme (EastEnders) you watch before emailing the details, your name, home address and even the colour of your curtains to Lord Sugar who’ll apparently read this data dump with glee before Tweeting the juicy bits.
But let’s dial down the hysteria a moment and see what’s actually going on.
The YouView box provides catch-up and other video on demand content. Some of this you can mark as a favourite and other content is listed based on popularity (also by ‘latest’ but that doesn’t concern us for this article).
The smart ones among you will have spotted that both of these require some storage of information both locally on your box and at YouView’s end in order for the shows to be listed properly and this is what the box does.
In practise it’s no different from a website listing what product or stories you’ve already looked at and which have been most popular with other visitors.
And because we live in a country where programmes and adverts are often broadcast and booked on a regional basis, the box needs to ensure broadcasters provide you with the correct regional content.
In the case of Scottish broadcaster STV that means providing its catch-up player app only to viewers in Scotland. As this is a broadband delivered content the regional restrictions can’t be enforced by the usual scanning for channels down the aerial.
Other on demand content providers might want to target adverts on a regional basis – not much point advertising Olympic breaks in London to those of us already living within the M25.
Other data is collected and reported back to ensure the service is working properly – surely the least we’d want in return for our £300?
There are two important things to note about this data – firstly it’s an essential part of making the service work correctly, and secondly it’s completely anonymous.
Despite the over-excited reporting, the box will not be telling Lord Sugar that Mrs Jones at 13 New Street watches trashy daytime TV or that she occasionally watches a slightly steamy film on Channel 5.
1. WHAT INFORMATION DO WE COLLECT AND WHY?
1.1 Device Settings and Preferences: In the course of using the YouView Service, you may alter settings or set preferences. We will use these in order to maintain, improve and personalise your experience of the YouView Service (in each case as described below). Some of these settings and preferences are system-wide, which means that they will be made accessible to content providers, so you only need turn on a setting or preference once. The following settings and preferences will be made accessible in this way:
1.1.1 Accessibility Settings and Preferences: We provide (and will provide) a range of Accessibility Settings including Subtitles, Subtitle Language, Audio Description, Audio Language, Signing and Quality Preferences.
1.1.2 Parental Controls: These controls enable you to protect your children from accessing Content that may be inappropriate for them.
1.2 Location: In the same way that traditional TV broadcasters provide regionalised content to their viewers (for example, regional news programs or advertisements), we and our content providers may provide you with Content that is localised to the geographic area where you live. To do this, we and they collect certain location information from your YouView device.
1.2.1 Approximate geographic region: We and our content providers can determine the approximate geographic area in which you use your YouView device by, for example, using information included in the broadcast signal received by your TV aerial. This information only indicates the approximate geographic area in which you use your YouView device (such as your county, but not your street address) and is necessary for Content regionalisation purposes. For example, the YouView device will choose between providing you with access to ITV, STV or UTV, as appropriate for your region.
In addition, we and our content providers will also use this information for aggregated reporting and analysis purposes, and our content providers may also use it to provide regionalised advertising to your YouView device. This means that our content providers may substitute ‘standard’ adverts with ones that are specific to your approximate location and therefore more likely to be relevant to you.
1.2.2 Postcode: We ask you for your postcode upon your set-up of the YouView service. We and our content providers will use your postcode for reporting and/or analysis purposes and/or to provide Content-related services which may include additional and improved localisation services (such as local radio), beyond what can be provided through simply using your approximate geographic location. We and our content providers may also use your postcode to provide locally relevant advertising to you on your YouView device. However, if you do not want your postcode to be available to us or our content providers, you can currently either decline to provide it during set-up or you can subsequently opt-out of its use in the Settings menu. If you have entered your postcode incorrectly, or wish to add your postcode after set-up, you can update it via the Settings menu.
1.3 Usage Data: In the same way that websites automatically store log files which are incidentally generated by your use of that website, your YouView device automatically generates data about your use of that device and of the YouView Service, termed “Usage Data”. This data may include, for example, the journey you took to reach specific Content and what Content was played. YouView will use this data (together with your device’s current RUID or any or all of the anonymous Device IDs (see paragraph 1.5 below) and/or your IP Address and/or associated autonomous system number (“ASN”)) to power services such as ‘Most Popular’ and ‘Recommendations’, for market analytics purposes, to provide anonymous and/or aggregated reports to content providers and/or other third parties and to optimise user journeys and more generally to improve the YouView Service.
1.4 Operational and Error Data: Whenever you access a part of the YouView service to play a programme, for example catch-up TV or linear TV, any errors that occur with the YouView Service will be logged by your YouView device in association with your device’s then-current RUID and/or your IP Address (and associated ASN). This data will be periodically reported back to us and we will use it to identify and, where necessary and possible, remedy any problems with your device and the YouView Service and also to monitor issues with the YouView Service in the interests of continuous improvement. We also use Operational and Error Data to identify any attempted circumvention of device security (see paragraph 1.6 below), so that we can protect our intellectual property rights and those of our content providers.
1.5 Device IDs: Your YouView device contains various device unique identifiers (you can think of these as being like serial numbers) that we or our content providers access for important operational, analytical and security purposes. We describe these identifiers below so that you understand what they are and why we need to use them. None of these identifiers enable us to personally identify you.
1.5.1 Device Unique ID (‘DUID’): Your YouView device contains a Unique Device ID (‘DUID) to which ‘YouView Affiliate ISPs’ have access (i.e. internet service providers who have entered into a legally binding agreement with us). YouView Affiliate ISPs use the DUID (together with certain Operational and Error Data, described below) to optimise Content and ISP services on your YouView device, to provide you with remote customer support (when you need it) and for account management purposes.
1.5.2 Device Make and Model ID: Your YouView device contains a non-specific ID which allows us to determine what type of make and model it is. This will be used to ensure that your device receives the correct software updates and upgrades. Our content providers also access your Device Make and Model ID to check that you are using a valid YouView device when serving Content to you and also for the purpose of maintaining secure connections with your device, when necessary.
1.5.3 Reporting Unique ID (‘RUID’): Your YouView device also generates a unique reporting ID which we use to report Operational and Error Data and to power certain services for you (such as ‘Most Popular’ and ‘Recommendations’ services, and ways to save your favourite channels and programmes). You can change this ID at any time by performing a factory reset of your YouView device.
1.5.4 Digital Rights Management Unique Device ID (‘DRM IDs’): Your YouView device also contains multiple Digital Rights Management Unique Device IDs (‘DRM IDs’). DRM IDs are used by some content providers responsible to protect their intellectual property rights in the Content they provide. Without effective digital rights management (or ‘DRM’), content providers would not be able to provide premium Content, such as movies, on your YouView device. DRM IDs are set by the Marlin Trust Management Office (‘MTMO’) which is an organisation independent of us. We require content providers who use DRM IDs not to use them for any purpose other than for digital rights management to protect intellectual property in their Content.
We may also provide third parties and content providers with reports which are linked to any or all of the anonymous Device IDs.
1.6 Device Security: The Usage Data and Operational and Error Data that we collect from your YouView device (together with any Device IDs and/or the IP Address and/or the ASN) will be used by us to maintain the security of your YouView device and to protect our intellectual property rights and those of our content providers. We may use it, for example, to identify any attempted circumvention of Digital Rights Management technologies on your device. If we reasonably suspect that the Digital Rights Management system on your YouView device has been circumvented or is likely to be circumvented, then we and our content providers may take technical and legal measures to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights. This may include taking measures to prevent your YouView device from playing Content that is protected by Digital Rights Management technologies.
As I said above, nothing evil going on there.
For our TiVo TV service:
Information about your usage and viewing, for example:
The types of programmes you watch;
How you use the television services, e.g. pausing, fast-forwarding or rewinding programmes;
Whether you save programmes to watch later;
Whether you tend to skip the adverts, watch programmes on demand and your purchasing preferences for example, responding to advertisements or promotions.
We may supplement the information that we collect from you and about your use of the services with information that we receive from third parties. This may include, for example, data we collect from other members of your household or information we receive from content providers (for example, information about your use of BBC iPlayer via our TiVo service so that we can personalise your TiVo service and recommend programmes you might like).
Again, absolutely essential information required to make the service work and/or understand how customers are using it to ensure they get the best possible experience.
We should all guard against unnecessary data collection and retention but in this instance there really isn’t anything untoward going on despite the excited online chatter.