ABC to require user accounts for iView streaming platform from March | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Australians wanting to catch up on ABC television shows will soon need to create a free account and login to watch programs on its streaming platform iView.

On Thursday, the public broadcaster said iView users would need to set up a free account to use the service from March. In a statement, the ABC explained requiring an account, which has until now been voluntary, would “increase user experiences through features including program recommendations, watchlists and the ability to pick up a show where they left off”.

The move has prompted a mixed reaction, with some viewers questioning why they have to sign up for a service that Australians pay for with their taxes or raising privacy concerns, while others have welcomed the extra convenience that comes with it.

The ABC said the move would bring it into line with other streaming services, commercial and public, to offer users a tailored viewing experience.

“Requiring a login on ABC iView, with all the privacy and data protections people expect from the ABC, enables the commercial-free public broadcaster to continue to nurture its relationship with audiences,” it said.

“Nothing about creating a login for ABC iView changes our editorial independence, integrity or responsibility, including the privacy and data protections people expect of the ABC.”

The president of ABC Friends, Margaret Reynolds, said the decision had concerned some members who were annoyed at having to sign up, while others had embraced the changes.

“It’s a typical clash of new and old,” Reynolds said.

We’ve managing new technology with logins and passwords for everything from your phone bill to Netflix.

“I think many people would think, ‘what are they complaining about?’ but other people, like me, say if I have to have another password I’ll need a separate room just to keep them in. ”

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Lauren Rosewarne, an associate professor from the University of Melbourne, said that logins were used to track user consumption patterns and their interaction with ABC advertisements online.

“Some viewers will see it as a breach of their privacy and believe that something that they fund – as taxpayers – should be able to be consumed unrestricted,” Rosewarne said.

“Others, however, actually get benefit from having an account: they can return to a program wherever they last left off, and programs will be suggested to them based on their viewing habits – some viewers see these things as positive.”

She said for other people who regularly use streaming services, either commercial or public, the move will not be seen as “egregious”.

“It’s important to recognize generational differences in perceptions and concerns around privacy,” she said.

“A generation who has known no world prior to having an infinite number of digital accounts will likely find having to have an iView account as less of an imposition than those who have spent comparatively less time online and guard their privacy with more vigilance.”

The ABC has sought to allay concerns over privacy, saying that it puts “a high priority on the protection of personal information”.

“The ABC will never sell the data, creating an account is free, and there is no paid advertising on ABC platforms in Australia,” it said.

But CEO of Thinking Cybersecurity and associate professor at ANU, Vanessa Teague, said the ABC can still legally provide Google and Facebook with a hashed version of someone’s email – a unique code used to cover the actual email.

“The ABC has said they will not be conveying viewing habits (to big tech),” Teague said.

“But you do not need to convey that I have a habit of watching cooking shows. You can say ‘it would be advantageous to show me an ad for cooking shows’ and thats useful information very slightly wrapped up in one layer of separation, so it does not seem to be conveying viewing habits. ”

She said the privacy policies in place stop them from using raw data, but will not stop them from building a profile of users if they click on the ads targeted towards them.

“They are at the very least linking info about people and what they are interested in watching,” she said.

“They should make it an option to opt-in. I do not think there’s any excuse for putting up that barrier in front of content that is publicly owned. It’s owned content, it belongs to us.

“Sticking up arbitrary barriers is inexcusable,” Teague said.

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