They know where you live and what you watch

The law states that anyone watching or recording TV programmes as they are broadcast must have a licence. It really doesn't matter if you use a TV, a computer or a mobile phone – if it's live, you have to pay. Catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer or 4oD fall under different rules and don't require a licence.

But how does TV Licensing, which collects and enforces licence fees on behalf of the BBC, know when a PC is receiving a live broadcast? Have the mysterious detector vans been fitted with some new equipment?

TV Licensing is very secretive about its detection methods, fearing that disclosing too much could help potential evaders. In a Freedom of Information request last year the BBC refused to reveal the technical equipment used by its vans, stating it "relies on the public perception

that the vans could be used at any time to catch evaders".

Do you need a licence to watch TV on your computer? (The Guardian, 29 July 2009)