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FACT and police target illegal streaming users in UK antipiracy drive

Antipiracy group the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) FACT and police in the UK have launched an antipiracy drive targeting consumers of illegal streaming services.

FACT and police are visiting homes across the UK through January, serving notices to individuals to cease illegal streaming activities with immediate effect and informing users of the associated risks, which include criminal prosecution.

Over 1,000 individuals have been identified 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, FACT said.

While criminal prosecution is pending against the operator of the illegal service, police are also reminding consumers that using illegal streaming services is a crime. FACT cited the 2021 case against two individuals, Paul Faulkner and Stephen Millington, who were sentenced to a total of 16 months in prison for watching unauthorised streams.

Users are also being advised of the other risks associated with illegal streaming, including funding criminal organisations and exposing themselves to fraud, scams, inappropriate content, viruses, and malware.

FACT chief executive, Kieron Sharp said: “We would like to thank the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN), the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), West Mercia Police, and other police forces across the country, for their support 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.”

West Mercia Police (Specialist Operations – Cyber Crime) detective inspector Matt McNellis said: “West Mercia Police worked in partnership with FACT and other agencies during Operation Raider to prevent criminal activity and raise public awareness around illegal streaming services. We are able to deploy cutting-edge digital tactics to identify and detect people who break the law before carrying out enforcement activity in concert with our partners. Often illegal streaming is used to fund Serious Organised Crime and West Mercia Cybercrime Unit is committed to interdicting this source of criminal revenue and reducing the harm organised crime groups can do to our communities.”

Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) detective chief inspector Gary Robinson 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. PIPCU is pleased to support this enforcement activity, and we will continue to work with our partners to take action against those who use and supply illegal streaming services.”

Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) national coordinator Jason Grove, said: “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. 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.”

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