Tumeke Exclusive: Does Igloo represent corporate big brother or the worst crack cocaine TV ever created?
After speaking to people who are in this sector, and as far as I am aware, this is a Tumeke exclusive and the privacy concerns I am about to raise in this blog haven't been voiced yet.
Igloo is a joint venture between Sky TV and TVNZ, it is low cost pay tv aimed at those on low wages and most importantly, and very deliberately, it's aimed at people with low technological skills.
It is the importance of this focus on those with low technological skills that is most concerning and the reasons why they are being targeted should concern anyone with a social conscience.
We are being used as a test case for a controversial new TV technology that if successful will be imported directly to BskyB and could represent the worst excesses of corporate big brother spying tactics and create a form of TV as addictive as crack cocaine.
Igloo is targeted towards the bottom 30% of the population who have yet to invest in digital TV estimated at 130 000 +.
The cost of the box will be $189.00 with a monthly subscription of $25.
Igloo is a set-top box (STB) with a integral free view UHF receiver. The STB is internet connected and can stream premium content on a pay-per-view basis (Video on demand - VOD). It will work on an average NZ internet speed and the VOD download has a complex encryption pattern which the STB decodes.
Igloo will have a small on-board memory, any movies saved on it will be wiped automatically after two days.
Igloo may allow access to existing i-Sky internet service via a built-in pay-for-view portal (it would be surprising if it doesn't).
Launch date is for the end of this month, you've probably seen the adverts on TV.
The design allows for a maximum of only 11 standard definition TV channels and the STB is built not by Sky, but by News International and BskyB.
The STB doesn't allow for ordinary internet access to U-tube or google tv or any social media which traps the viewer into Igloo only content and is utterly useless in terms of the online content future we are heading towards.
Most worryingly, the system is ultimately designed to spy on every viewer habit and send that information to a third party (owned by Murdoch) who analyze viewing habits and then send that analysis back to Sky and TVNZ to then bombard the viewer with personalized adverts.
This is certainly not new and many internet and social media providers are already playing this game, but this will be a first for the TV industry in NZ, and if it is successful here it will be taken to BskyB.
What Igloo really is about, is a vast market research resource which makes the poorest pay for that market research. Adverts and promotions are to be individually targeted so as to secure further subscriptions to Sky's premium satellite channels. If TV is a drug, this ability to bombard viewers with targeted advertising is crack cocaine.
As soon as you switch Igloo on, the interfaces will constantly bombard you with electronic advertising and 'special offers'. The more you use it, the better the profile it will keep of you.
Igloo is connected via your internet leading to the question, would a 3rd party 45% owned by News International start spying on your ordinary internet usage and start to tailor adverts to that information as well? Igloo is WiFi capable and if enabled could read your personal data on any near by device, including the contents of a personal computer or mobile tablet/phone.
There are a number of security and configuration options built into Igloo that have not been activated at this time, but could be activated by remote commands from Sky TV or the third-party data centre.
This represents a vast big brother ability to create a type of TV that is highly addictive and designed to press your viewer buttons for profit margins. If you go to Igloo's privacy page, they allow for all of this.
Whilst the Leveson inquiry into media ethics holds court in the UK, why are we allowing the very same corporation to be able to spy on the viewing habits of the poor and technologically illiterate without spelling this out to those viewers?
Igloo is an orphan technology that locks these people into intrusive market research tactics to then feed those viewers a deeply addictive and unhealthy media diet.
How our own 'public broadcaster' (and I use that term in its broadest possible meaning) has managed to get involved in this type of scam is beyond me. It seems that TVNZ has no understanding whatsoever that Igloo will only work for pay TV interests and actually accelerate the death of free to air broadcasting.
It's time the media started asking Sky TV and TVNZ some hard questions about Igloo and it's content spying technology.