Italian Court Orders ISPs to Block Seven Pirate IPTV Platforms

By Bill Toulas / June 20, 2020

The Court of Rome in Italy has received an official complaint about a large pirate IPTV network operating in the country, supported by evidence provided by the Special Goods and Services Unit of the Guardia di Finanza. The law enforcement authorities launched an investigation after Serie A reached out to ask for help tackling pirate streams that broadcasted football/soccer games without a license. In total, the police managed to locate 56 servers that supported the operation of seven IPTV platforms in the country, and the court blocking order concerns this infrastructure.

The prosecutors estimate that the seven pirate IPTV platforms were serving 160,572 subscribers in Italy and other countries, while at least 900 resellers are believed to be involved in the scheme. These sold packages offered access to 450 TV channels, plus 30,000 films and TV series. In total, it is estimated that the blocked IPTV services were making roughly 1.6 million EUR per month, which is why the financial crime department led the investigation. As for whether the police managed to identify anyone, some high-standing individuals have been tracked down after a period of online monitoring.

Another interesting revelation that came from the particular investigation is that pirates engage in hacking and extorting each other. In some cases, Telegram channel admins were threatening hacked IPTV service providers with the leaking their subscribers’ personal and payment data online, which is another risky component of subscribing to these illegal services. In December 2019, we reported on two similar cases that concerned the hacking of Helix and PrimeStreams, involving demands of $70,000 in Bitcoin. Blackmailing in this field is particularly powerful because hackers use the “law enforcement prosecution” threat to convince the operators of the pirating platforms.

Serie A is one of the most valuable football leagues in the world, so the stakeholders had a strong financial motive to protect their product. However, this disruption will go a lot farther than just blocking football game streams. For now, we don’t know which seven IPTV services were taken offline, and it doesn’t matter much anyway as others will replace them in a short time. What matters is for people to understand that subscribing to these services constitutes a multi-level risk, and at the same time, direct participation and contribution in a huge-scale financial crime operation. On the other side, broadcasters must finally realize that they need to make their products more affordable. Otherwise, this circle of prosecution will never close.

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