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BBC Holds Personal Data, Threatens To Contact Employers If Users Leave ‘Offensive’ Comments On Articles

The BBC has revealed it will use people's “personal information” …
Carl Court/Getty
LIAM DEACON

The BBC has revealed it will use people’s “personal information” to “stop” them being “disruptive” or “offensive” online, as well as threatening to inform users employer if they are perceived to have broken the law.

The national broadcaster revealed the threat in a new 28-page ‘Privacy and Cookies Policy’ document, which contained a section on “offensive or inappropriate content”.

“If you post or send offensive, inappropriate or objectionable content anywhere on or to BBC websites or otherwise engage in any disruptive behaviour on any BBC service, the BBC may use your personal information to stop such behaviour”, the section claimed.

It is unclear how the BBC would deploy user’s personal information to alter their behaviour online, and there are not detail given as to what actions they would include within the broad and subjective bracket of “offensive, inappropriate or objectionable”.

The threat to contract third parties such as “your employer, school email/internet provider or law enforcement agencies” about “content and your behaviour” is limited to “where the BBC reasonably believes that you are or may be in breach of any applicable laws”.

However, why the BBC might want to peruse people via their job or education – rather than allowing the criminal justice system to run its course – is also unclear.

They give the example of a post that “may be defamatory”, but do not rule out perusing people for so-called “hate crimes”, which are recorded as a crime so long as they are “perceived” as hateful by the “victim”, with no evidence required.

Furthermore, the phrases “reasonably believes” and “may be in breach” appear to give the BBC the ability to interpret the law themselves, and even scope to potentially ruin lives or reputations when the law has not, in fact, been breached.

The document also reveals that the BBC will “hold your personal information on our systems for as long as is necessary for the relevant activity, or as long as is set out in any relevant contract you hold with the BBC.”

If users delete their BBC accounts, however, their personal data will be deleted.

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