Following raids by West Mercia Police against a UK-based illegal streaming service that was supplying entertainment and sports content via modified boxes, firesticks, and subscriptions, the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and police have been visiting homes across the UK, serving notices to individuals to immediately cease illegal streaming activities and informing users of the associated risks, which include criminal prosecution.
In 2021, two individuals, Paul Faulkner and Stephen Millington had been sentenced to a total of 16 months in prison for watching unauthorised streams. In the current matter, criminal prosecution is pending against the operator of the illegal service.
Users are also being advised of the many other risks associated with illegal streaming, including funding criminal organisations and exposing themselves to fraud, scams, inappropriate content, viruses, and malware.
Reinforcing consumer awareness
UK agencies including the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN), the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) of the City of London Police, West Mercia Police, and other police forces across the country, have been working with FACT to help ensure that the public are made aware of the dangers of using illegal streaming services and, more importantly, that they understand that there is the risk of criminal prosecution, according to FACT Chief Executive Keiron Sharp.
Recent research, which analysed 50 popular illegal streaming sites, found that all contained malicious content, while over 40% of them did not have a security certificate. 50% of people who illegally stream in the UK say they or someone they know have been a victim of scams, ID theft, fraud or data loss as a result, and 41% have been exposed to inappropriate content.
Read the original news release, Police Visit Homes Across The UK To Issue Warnings To Subscribers Of Illegal Sports Streaming Services, January 10, 2023, FACT
Why it matters
“This operation has involved months of collaborative hard work and the warning notices issued are an excellent example of adopting a multi-agency approach between FACT and the Police,” said Jason Grove, National Coordinator for the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN). “By working in partnership, sharing intelligence lawfully and efficiently, the network aims to ensure that government agencies and law enforcement will help reduce the risk, threat and harm from serious and organised crime,” he said.
“Accessing films, TV series and live sports events from unauthorised sources is illegal, can expose consumers to risks such as data theft and malware, and can help fund organised criminal groups,” added Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) Detective Chief Inspector, Gary Robinson.