An illegal IPTV operation was taken down by the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) of the Netherlands. With an illicit streaming device purchased at retail plus a subscription for about €10 per month, users could watch films and series TV programming from Disney, Netflix, Viaplay, Videoland, ESPN, plus more than 10,000 TV channels.
While the FIOD placed the number of end users in the “hundreds of thousands,” Europol estimated it to be more than a million. The illegal service was not identified by either agency. According to the FIOD, the TV service was distributed from a data center in Den Helder, which was shut down and searched on May 23. As a result, the IPTV subscriptions no longer work.
Members of the police Advanced Search Team and trained dogs were used to search for cash at business premises in Den Helder, Almere, Hengelo and at homes in Amsterdam, Almere, Enschede, The Hague and Den Helder. The investigation was led by the Functional Public Prosecutor’s Office. Administration, bank accounts, five cars, computer equipment and large amounts of cash were seized.
Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre supported this investigation with analytical support, helping identify the key targets and their criminal activity across Europe. A number of operational meetings were organised by Europol to bring together the investigators in the different European countries affected by this criminal network. Its experts were deployed in various locations in the Netherlands during the action day to support the FIOD in its enforcement activities.
Illegal IPTV provider taken off the air, hundreds of thousands of TVs blacked out. Press release. May 23, 2023. FIOD Belastingdienst, The Netherlands
One of Europe’s biggest pirate IPTV services taken down in the Netherlands. Press release. May 23, 2023. Europol
Why it matters
While watching TV via the Internet is legal in the Netherlands and almost everywhere else worldwide, it is a crime to offer or take subscriptions to unlicensed programming, as it infringes the holder of the copyright. In Europe, both sale and consumption of unlicensed programming are illegal and punishable.