back to article BBC detector vans are back to spy on your home Wi-Fi – if you can believe it

The BBC's creepy detector vans will be dragged into the 21st century to sniff Brits' home Wi-Fi networks, claims the UK Daily Telegraph's Saturday splash. From September 1, you'll need a telly licence if you stream catch-up or on-demand TV from the BBC's iPlayer service, regardless if you've got a television set or not – phone …

Unhappy

Thin end of wedge

Got a PC? Smartphone? Tablet ? Pi(e) ? (MMMM..pies...) Then you must get a telly licence...... cos we are now broadcasting/streaming on the Internet.....

If the Beeb want to bleat about how many non-licence holders are streaming their content then the answer is- Do Not put the content here in the first place- it's like leaving your possessions in the street and not expecting them to get stolen... but I'm still fairly convinced that this is a subtle way to start getting PC owners, who have no TV and do not pay the licence fee, to cough up , whether they watch any iPlayer content or not...

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Paris Hilton

Re: Thin end of wedge

I refer the Honorable Gentleman to the "Private Copying Levy."

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Black Helicopters

I'm going to change my SSID to

The Laurels

(that's the name of next door's house)

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Re: I'm going to change my SSID to

Maybe....

Met Police Monitoring as an SSID might scare them off

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Silver badge

Re: I'm going to change my SSID to

HMRC Office. That'll scare the bejeezus out of Crapita employees!

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Silver badge

Re: I'm going to change my SSID to

If you want to change it to something that would scare the living sh*t out of Capita employees then call your wifi "Capita HR ONLY"

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I have a question

I live 400 Meters from a public road and our house is made mostly of granite

Are these van allowed to trespass down our private lane and sniff the 5 WiFi networks here?

Our networks are fully encrypted and the kids use NOW TV boxes to watch stuff

The main equipment is directly wired to a switch, apart from phones and laptops

We have a TV Licence, so this isn't really an issue unless I chop the aerial off the roof

95% of the TV we watch is not directly a Freeview / Freesat or BBC related channel

(I know some freeview channels transmit bbc programs) i.e Dave

So should I just let rip with the shotgun when a van drives up here?

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Really

"We've got two more words for you: Ethernet. Cables. What are you going to do about TVs physically wired into their routers?"

One man's 1984ish enforcement scheme is another man or woman's business opportunity. I foresee an uptick in Cat-5e cable, crimping tool, and RJ-45 connector sales.

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cd

In Soviet Britain, media watches you.

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really? no one?

Housinge?

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Bronze badge
Holmes

Are We Sure?

....they aren't from the Mayor of London's office searching for blasphemers?

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Anonymous Coward

Have they not heard of authentication?

If you have a licence they send you a registration code and you can then access the site.

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Silver badge

They don't want to do that because they see that as the first step on the road toward people only paying if they actually want the service, which wouldn't do.

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Bollocks, that would be an illegal intercept.

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Mushroom

The year the BBC died

No problemo with all of this, for me personally any way. I'm prepared to go to prison before I pay for a TV license.

But besides that, no need for prison yet, and I'll tell you why.

First, I will be blocking the BBC on the Router at Domain level, even the news websites because they sneakily put those LIVE things up sometimes without due warning and I might click on it pissed one night coming back from the pub. That means that I will not physically be able to watch even if I wanted to. I will also make amendments to my hosts file.

Second, I will disable wireless on my Router. I don't use it anyway, but I do need to find a way to switch it off so it is most definitely NOT TRANSMITTING. I need to research this, and it may involve buying another Router as I have not been able to find a quick and easy way to disable it yet. But I will.

Third, I don't answer the door to strangers. Ever. The harder you knock, the harder I laugh. Knock it all day fellas if you like. No open sesame for you goons. I could record and video the conversation and I am in the process of setting that up, as I'm sick of their fucking harassment, but for now, your name's not down your not coming in.

When I do get this set up with video and audio recording, I will remove their implied right of access and inform them that should they harass me again, I will be charging a fee of 200 GBP an hour in my future dealings with them, which will include a letter to my local police station informing them of the said harassment. I will also be sending letters to my MP, again at the rate of 200 GBP per hour, informing them of same. There will be letters to newspapers and there will be posts on websites and blogs like this, also informing people of the harassment I am suffering. I think we are looking at about a tidy Grand there. And of course, it will have been put in writing to them, recorded delivery so they know what they are dealing with. The law is on my side.

So, with no wifi to sniff and the BBC blocked at the Router, there is fuck all they can do but threaten me and invade my privacy.

It doesn't matter that they have been given dispensation. The fact is we are still in the EU and as I understand it, it is illegal under EU law currently to do this. If it is illegal to probe your computer for ad-blockers, it most certainly is illegal to sniff your traffic. That is if it is workable, which of course, it is not. Possibly from a technical viewpoint, but not from a pragmatic viewpoint.

This is the 21st Century equivalent of those ads that said: "WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE!!." Remember them?

It's a proven well known fact that the detector vans were total bullshit. Yes, the technology did exist in theory but it was limited in usefulness, expensive and only really rolled out for true military and anti-terrorist purposes. So I have been told. I may be wrong, so pinch of salt. The detector vans never had one person prosecuted, they were scaremongering, that is all I know for a fact according to FOI requests.

But fuck all that. The fact that they have the brass balls to just come out and say 'we are going to spy on you' is enough to get my back up. Fuck you BBC and Capita cunts. You won't be missed.

It will be with heavy heart when I set all this up on a clean and new system image (with everything blocked) for proof of dates should I need them. I will watch the Sky at Night for one last time, and even though dear dear Patrick Moore is no longer with us, it's a top quality program. I will listen to that evocative music one last time. It will remind me of when I was a child, staying up later than I should have, in black and white, to learn about science and cosmology. God bless them all.

And one last 'fuck you cunts' to the BBC. Just who the fuck do you think you are to treat innocent people like shit in this way? I will go to prison before they get a penny out of me. That's a promise. If they lob it in with internet tax, I will disconnect from the net. Yes, I'll be one of the few, but we do exist.

Fucking chumps and goons... What a time to be alive. To see the encroaching totalitarian state take shape before our very eyes. This is not about the BBC, it's about population control.

Oh, did I mention Fuck YOU BBC and Crapita? No, ok, one last time, just to make sure you got it:

FUCK YOU BBC AND CAPITA!

CUNTS.

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Silver badge

Re: The year the BBC died

I doubt the Beeb will miss you either.

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Re: The year the BBC died

If they weren't missing people like him (and me) then nothing would be changing.

Clearly they do.

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Black Helicopters

Re: The year the BBC died

Plus vote for top irrational rant of the day.

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Go

Re: The year the BBC died

Don't forget the moat and drawbridge - hopefully the 'tector vans wont be equipped with a trebuchet

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Bronze badge

Impressive work by the BBC.

I'm impressed that when it comes to financial matters effecting their income they can immediately recognise what houeholds are using their services illegally and deliver swift and fitting punishment, yet when it came to recognising perverts molesting kiddies, despite numerous complaints, and even when they abused them on stage, with cameras pointing at them recording it, they were fucking clueless about it for decades.

Priorities.

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Why a license?

Brits need a license to watch television? Do they need to pass some kind of test to prove they can watch properly?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why a license?

"TV tax" probably sounds too taxationy.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't they need a warrant for any kind of DPI trickery?

Could one call an illegal search?

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But it is all right that people still have black & white licenses, for TVs that are most likely not!

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The problem with the B&W licence is that anyone getting such a licence now cannot comply with its terms. You need a colour licence if you have equipment capable of receiving a colour signal, e.g. a VCR - or a Freeview box. And there are no B&W-only TVs with built-in Freeview, I'm astonished that the B&W licence hasn't been abolished.

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Really, it would be easier to do away with this nonsense and put iPlayer behind a paywall. But, the BBC don't want to do they, because they'd find out how many* people are willing to pay for their programmes when there's no coercion.

* not many

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So, now you need to pay even though you only use it to watch pornhub?

So effectively you now need to pay a TV license for watching youtube, browse reddit and pornhub. Lol, that is taking it too far.

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Megaphone

Re: So, now you need to pay even though you only use it to watch pornhub?

Probably willfully obtuse, but I'll bite.

You do NOT need a TV license if you have the BBC blocked at your Router. That means it is physically impossible to pick up the transmissions, because they do NOT occur.

I'm breaking NO laws at all.

The BBC have been given mandate to illegally hack into my computer, and there is not much I can do about that. They might report me for all the child porn I download, or all the bomb-making materials I disseminate to Jihadis, but, they can not so far do me for watching the BBC when it is physically impossible for me to receive it.

They can not however do me for the TV I have in my living room. I am just about to pick one up in fact for watching VHS videos - my mum is chucking it out and I have a video of me and mates on VHS that I want to watch. They can do fuck all. That is the law.

I'm not pissed off about anything to do with being stopped from being a freeloader, because I am not. I don't use the BBC services at all, apart from news and catch up, and like I said, that stops the end of month. Even the wonderful sky at night. I won't torrent it or circumvent it because I am taking the moral high ground. Oh, and the legal high ground too.

Those that wish to break the law, I have no opinion on. I know what I am doing is totally legal and also moral. I couldn't give a shit about the 'you won't believe what happened next' bullshit the bbc news has started to peddle. That and deceptive headlines that outright lie. I have proof. I have facts. Screenshots.

They can eat shit and die as far as I am concerned.

You may not believe me, but I am being monitored under RIPA. I get a hard hard knock on my door in the next few days. In fact, the last time I posted anything as subversive as this, the fucking goons came around the very next fucking morning.

And you paid for it! Mugs.

I will go to prison before I pay a penny to the BBC.

I am not breaking the law. I have proof I am not breaking the law.

So fuck off cunts.

Fucking totalitarian child rapers and child raping protectors. You're fucking done. And when I get my cameras and microphones set up, I'm really going to rip you a new one if you try to knock my door off the hinges again. Cunts. They nearly took it off last time. I thought they were beating it with a battering ram.

This is why I'm fucked off, not coz I'm too tight to pay a piddling few pennies for a service that on the whole is probably worth it. I honestly would have paid the license fee just for Sky at Night alone. But no, you had to be cunts about it.

Oh and now that they will be sending around the TV detector vans, I suppose I had better stop downloading all that child torture porn and the bomb-making stuff too. JOKE.

Yes, it's a fucking joke, coz they already monitor me in real time via RIPA.

What self-respecting kiddy fiddler or terrorist would admit to that on a public forum eh?

Won't stop them carting me away and torturing me for a bit eh? Because that is what all this is about innit? They couldn't give a fuck about the TV license. They want you all to be good girls and boys and do the fuck as you are told.

I expect them to make an example of me sooner rather than later, now that I am so obviously on their radar. And those of you that pay for a BBC license are funding my fucking persecution, so drink deep from that one as well.

What a time to be alive. Worried I'm going to be dragged out of bed and be tortured by goons for having the temerity not to pay for a service that I don't use. Let's see how long it takes the cunts to knock on my door this time shall we? I'll be reporting back, if I'm still around...

Oh, and rest in peace, Patrick Moore, like Jimmy Savile had engraved on his tomb stone: IT WAS FUN WHILE IT LASTED.

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Re: So, now you need to pay even though you only use it to watch pornhub?

It was a joke, but wow on your response.

Quite honestly, the statement is that anyone using the iPlayer to watch BBC should be paying a TV license, so it should exclude wifi or lan traffic. I am sure there are better ways to monitor the iPlayer users (like a subscription) than threatening letters. However, it has been proven that more people will respond to a legal letter, no matter how unlawful, and cough up. There are the few who will call and question it, but being a bully served the lazy corps well up to now. I for one haven't lived in the UK for well over 5 years, and my property was vacant for two years while contractors renovated it. During that time there were zero electronics in the house. To my amusement I got threatening letters to pay up or face a fine. I didn't pay it of course, but I know many who did.

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Facepalm

Oh for Fuck's sake

99.99% of people watch T.V., listen to radio or stream live video. Therefore, the blindingly obvious thing to do is to scrap the licence fee, the "detector vans" and all the useless twuntards in the licensing and enforcement departments and simply take it out of general taxation (yes, it'll go up a bit, but it's a lot harder to dodge). Some formula linked to census statistics ring fenced so the gubbermint can't dick with it when they need a new nuclear weapon should give the beeb all the cash they need without needing to bung the courts up.

Thank fuck I live in NZ now and don't have to put up with this shit.

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Typical British Over-engineering?

Maybe I'm being a bit simplistic ... but couldn't you just require people to register for iPlayer and during that process check for their license status? Yes, I know that properties are licensed, not people, but I'm sure that a compromise could be found - it is after all, far more viable than sniffing wifi packets.

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Here's an idea

How about some sort of online portal, where people log in, enter maybe a username and password, associate the account with a TV license number and address. Surely that would be much cheaper then buying vans and hiring staff to sit in them all day doing nothing (because even if they do capture packets, which court would accept them?)

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Identifying the correct SSID

How are these so called detector vans ever going to know they are spying on the correct house without knowing the SSID of the WiFi network.

The majority of license dodgers will likely be in built up areas - blocks of flats, busy housing streets etc. With a condensed area of WiFi networks how will they ever know they're tracking packets on the right network?!

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Anonymous Coward

Counter-measures; OPENVPN+OBFSPROXY

Can Capita's Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) 'technology' tell the difference between say a livestream from BBC News24, as opposed to, for instance livestream from Youtube, or RT.com, aljazeera.com?

What if you have four or five windows open, and stream from several different websites SIMULTANEOUSLY? Would this muddy the waters?

Even if their 'technology' can differentiate between various livestreams, effective counter-measures exist by using a VPN service IN CONJUCTION WITH OBFSPROXY (OPENVPN+OBFSPROXY).

Several VPN service providers allow this, and such techniques are successful used by millions who reside in even nastier regimes than our own in the UK, such as Iran, China, Pakistan.

Mullvad, NordVPN, Proxy.sh, VPN.AC, are just a small example of the many providers who now provide OPENVPN+OBFSPROXY technology.

Continue to bin the letters, and use a VPN service which has a track record of defeating the Great Firewall of China (one which uses TOR's obfs technology), and continue to use the BBC iplayer (Live or not).

((It may also possible to use STUNNEL in conjunction with a VPN service to defeat DPI)).

At the end of the day they will continue to rely on the same old nasty letters sent by Capita working on behalf of the [B]ullying [B]roadcasting [C]orporation, with the phrases such as 'Interview Under Caution' and 'Police And Criminal Evidence' Act, thrown in, to fool the stupid into mistakenly believing that the TV enforcement staff have 'Police Powers'.

Whilst those with a half a brain know it's safe to continue to bin the letters, and shut the door in the faces of any inspector who does pay a visit.

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Re: Counter-measures; OPENVPN+OBFSPROXY

Its much easier than that just "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow"

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So, the BBC had this magical power to detect what channel you are watching - for 50 years?

Technology SO secret that it is a state secret?! Technology that no other country has ever been able to replicate, ever? Not even China or North Korea?

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

There's plenty of anecdotal comment online from ex BBC employees, saying that the whole detector van thing was always just a scare tactic.

Anyone who believed otherwise is an idiot.

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What a pile of c**p!

There is absolutely no need for the BBC to reply any sort of 'detector' anything... they already have every detail the need, simply because you logged into iPlayer. Even if you have a 'shadow' email/iPlayer account, they know everything about your Browser and the IP address you are using. It not a huge job to associate an IP address with a property address ... companies like BT Openreach & cable service providers log whiich IP address is allocated to their customers homes every day.

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Re: What a pile of c**p!

>>There is absolutely no need for the BBC to reply any sort of 'detector' anything... they already have every detail the need, simply because you logged into iPlayer.

Err, the only problem with this is simply that you don't need to be logged in (or even registered) to use the iPlayer online... :)

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IT Angle

Re: What a pile of c**p!

"It not a huge job to associate an IP address with a property address ..."

MaxMind, who provide the IP/geographic address database, has always stated that this doesn't work, that their database is not fine-grained enough to locate IP addresses down to below city-block level (that is. at best to within about 500 yards) — in most cases, to city level and in some cases county or country level.

I have done location traces on my own IP addresses from time to time; when I was on Three, I was shown to be in Maidenhead Berks (about 30 miles out), although I don't know what the uncertainty radius was, and more recently I'm reckoned to be in the centre of London (probably Trafalgar Square or Piccadilly Circus), with an uncertainty radius of the entire Greater London County out to the M25.

The erroneous belief that "it is easy to associate an IP address with a household" has led to the creation of websites claiming that all the cybercriminals in the USA operate from one small farm north of Wichita, Kansas — because that farm's co-ordinates were the ones returned for IP addresses whose only known location is "somewhere in the USA", and those searching for it ignored (or weren't delivered) the 1500-mile uncertainty radius. Even the FBI made that mistake. Hopefully, now that the secret supervillain den has moved to the middle of a lake west of Wichita, the innocent inhabitants of the farm will be left in peace.

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Easy defence - fuzzying

If they only listen to ones wifi, and assuming the wifi is strongly encrypted, the defence a home would have against the BBC is to add random traffic to the wifi - so called fuzzing. I guess this could become an opensource project - imagine Raspberry PI in Wifi simply generating traffic to a website on the Internet. Very hard to distinguish on the Wifi.

That is why I am puzzled why the BBC bothers with Wifi when they could (using RIPA) tap to the ISPs directly. And by extension of that, why not just correlate IP addresses of iPlayer users with paying households.

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Re: Easy defence - fuzzying

Or just use an Ethernet cable - like me.

And a VPN - Detect THAT Crapita!

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Much as I love all your elegant scientific and statistical theories a few facts are the most salient.

There where as few as 160 requests for detection use in 2015.

Detection evidence has never been used in a prosecution for licence evasion.

The stated reason for this was that it was only used to obtain search warrants, however no case of a search warrant being used as a result of detection evidence is known.

In other words it is not detection itself that is the virus its the threat of detection.

What I find amazing is that the British state can go on pretending that there is some kind of technolicy out there that nobody knows ab

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does everyone believe this crap???

nope, WAAAYY too long didn't read the other carp...

First, wifi & internet is NOT as 'easily readable' as the 'noise' produced by the average TV set... and the modern LCD tv even less...

If wifi was that easy to 'see' there would have been 'problems' *years* ago!! LOLOLOL...

various 'agencies' have enough problems finding the house that is using an IP address found, that they quite often find nothing, disturbing *innocent* people!!

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So 1942

It does sound fun, straight from a world war II SOE story. Where the Germans used detector vans to triangulate the transmissions of enemy radio operators.

I hope the vans have a nice big loop Ariel on the top that can be rotated and the inside equipment is housed in those nice big blue hammerite racks with big dials and large bakerlite knobs.

I sort of regret having a TV license as I will miss the fun of sitting in the forest, watching Strictly on my tablet knowing at any time I could be incarcerated like the members of the French resistance before me.

Luckily the BBC are not modern enough to use drones, now that would be 21st century.

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Silver badge

This is ridiculous, not the fact that there may be detector vans... But the kind of backwards thinking nthgast makes them needed in the first place... How much will the BBC spend on this i instead of implementing a logon for iPlayer... With some kind of licence verification built into the sign up...

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Why does the BBC still exist as a license-funded organisation?

There is plenty of evidence from around the world (including the UK) that privately owned TV companies are a viable thing, so why is a publically owned-broadcaster necessary anymore?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why does the BBC still exist as a license-funded organisation?

Well, I for one, like my publicly funded free-to-air broadcaster.

I do think paying by licence fee is a waste of energy though and given the remarkable complexity and cost of collection and enforcement central funding would give the same funding minus a big discount in effort.

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Re: Why does the BBC still exist as a license-funded organisation?

"Well, I for one, like my publicly funded free-to-air broadcaster."

Then you pay for it.

I like to drink beer and socialise rather than sit watching television, but I don't expect YOU or the state to pay for it.

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xyz

Wow...

>>Detection vans can identify viewing on a non‐TV device in the same way that they can detect viewing on a television set.

The only thing that springs to my mind is that the guy doing time for selling fake bomb sniffers has come up with a new product line.

Would it not be easier for the BBC to ask for your tv licence ID when you log onto the site or open the app and just deny you access to the service if you don't provide it, which is similar to having iPlayer blocked when you use a foreign IP address? It would probably be more effective, less creepy and carbon friendly than having a sweaty bloke sitting in a van, stroking this thighs, muttering "milky milky" with the engine running, whilst sniffing the packets of teenagers and children.

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