Tuesday, 25 January 2022 10:16

Government adopts hands-off attitude on ABC iview login move Featured

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Government adopts hands-off attitude on ABC iview login move Screenshot from iview website

The Australian Government has washed its hands of any decision the ABC might make about compulsory logins for its iview service, saying the taxpayer-funded broadcaster has content and operational independence to do what it likes.

iview is a service that allows viewers to see programs that have already been broadcast, or in some case which are yet to go to air. All content provided is paid for with taxpayer funds as the ABC is a government-owned body.

A spokesperson from the Department of Communications told iTWire in response to a query about the issue: "While the Australian Government provides an overall level of funding to the ABC, the broadcaster has content and operational independence.

"Parliament has guaranteed this independence so the broadcaster’s decisions are free of political interference. Matters relating to iview account management are the responsibility of the ABC Board and executive.

"The ABC is accountable to the Parliament through annual reports, corporate plans, financial and performance audits and appearances before Parliamentary Committees."

The government's views were sought after the ABC reiterated its stance that it would go ahead with making logins compulsory for using iview, with the same to be implemented during the view.

It is not uncommon for the government to voice its views on ABC decisions, with many of the broadcaster's moves being criticised over the years.

But on this issue, one which concerns user data and user privacy, the government has chosen to keep silent.

Last year, when iTWire asked the ABC whether it shared iview user data with Google and Facebook — it has agreements with both companies under the government's media laws — the company was unwilling to give a definite answer.

Following an FOIA request by security researcher Dr Vanessa Teague last year, it emerged that the iview user data collected by the ABC through Google Analytics was being stored in the US.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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