Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Question: What can an IPTV/VOD provider do with viewing data?

A student asked me what the legal problems were with selling data on viewing habits with digital TV/IPTV (both broadcast and on demand). I must say, I don't know.

- Can a provider of digital TV resell information on whether a user has ordered certain (naughty) television channels?
- Can a provider of digital TV resell information on all regular viewers of BBC Top Gear (name your programme?)
- Are they allowed to store all viewing data?
- etc etc

Anybody have any good pointers to academic papers on the topic? What laws do apply (preferably Netherlands, Europe, rest of world (in that order)

Addendum November 13th: Read the super addition on the Italian situation by Eugenio!


  1. Hi Rudolf,
    I am a media & ICT lawyer. My friend Stefano Quintarelli referred me to your post and asked me if I could provide some basic info.
    I can tell you what I know about the Italian situation (since Italy's regulation is based on EU Directives, it will not be very different elsewhere in EU in my opinion).
    The new Audiovisual Media Services Directives of December 2007 clearly states that IPTV & VOD services are equivalent to traditional digital television services (sat and terrestrial) television when it comes to basic regulatory principles.
    The Italian Data Protection Authority had issued a regulation regarding sat and terrestrial digital television services in which it prohibited operators from using data for any purposes other than billing and, even in billing, titles of products purchased in near video on demand should not appear in bills sent to customers.
    According to data protection laws, an operator may always ask the customer to authorize further uses of the data, but this has to be done through a privacy policy which must be explicitily reviewed and approved by the customer.
    If this does not happen, data on the customer. collected without the customer knowledge through a website or set top box, at least in Italy, in my opinion, may not be stored/used.


    Eugenio Prosperetti


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