Italy: Anti-piracy operation against illegal sports streaming ring, 21 suspects investigated nationwide

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By Steven Hawley, Managing Director, Piracy Monitor

Italian State Police conducted an operation against a major football piracy ring at the disposal of the District Attorney General’s Office – Anti-Mafia District Directorate of Catania, shutting down illegal IPTV and live streaming sites.  It was directed by the District Prosecutor’s Office of Catania (Sicily), initiated by the Operational Center for Cybersecurity, and the direct coordination of the Postal Police Service of Rome. It was further supported by the Cybersecurity Operational Centers of Reggio Calabria, Turin, Naples, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Bari.

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The operation led to searches with 21 suspects located in the provinces of Catania, Messina, Syracuse, Cosenza, Alessandria, Naples, Salerno, Reggio Emilia, Pisa, Lucca, Livorno and Bari for various crimes, including criminal association aimed at the transnational dissemination of television schedules with conditional access, damage to information, data and computer programs, abusive access to a computer system, computer fraud.

The suspects promoted the illegal services via social media and evaded detection by “(making) use of encrypted messaging applications, fictitious identities and fake documents” that were “also used for the header of telephone utilities, credit cards, television subscriptions and server rentals.

Highly organized

According to ANSA, “(The) criminal association (was) organized in a hierarchical way according to distinct and precise roles and with promoters distributed throughout the country and abroad, with the aim of the constant distribution, to a very large number of users, nationally and internationally, of live schedules and on-demand content protected by television rights, owned by the most famous television platforms such as Sky, Dazn, Mediaset, Amazon prime, Netflix … with monthly profits of several million euros.”

“This is a very important operation announced this morning by the police officers of Catania – a hard blow to those criminal mentalities that manage illegal IPTV and illicit live streaming platforms, whose revenues finance criminal acts of various capacities.” said Federico Bagnoli Rossi, President of FAPAV.

(Piracy) “… not only harms the cultural industries and Italian creativity but seriously endangers the security and privacy of users,” he said.

Further reading

FAPAV applauds the important operation against audiovisual piracy conducted by the state police and coordinated by the DDA of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Catania.  Press release. December 19, 2023. FAPAV

Investigation into TV piracy, 21 suspects and signal blocked.  Article. December 19, 2023. Editorial staff. ANSA

Illegal TV streaming, a network dismantled: 21 suspects and signal blocked. Article. December 19, 2023. L’Unione

Why it matters

In 2022, there were about 345 million illegal acts in Italy, as many as 30 million more than the previous year, and the incidence of IPTV use reached 23%,” according to Mr. Bagnoli Rossi. “But there was still no regulatory framework of great impact like the one launched in our country in recent months, a law that goes to affect new forms of illicit activity, such as IPTV, and also other illegal and harmful activities for cinema such as camcording. This operation represents, therefore, a further piece confirming that ours is not a country for pirates.

Italy was the first country in Europe to pass an anti-camcording law, in December.

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