Dodgy Amazon Fire TV Stick crackdown could lead to home raids

An Amazon Fire TV Stick held over a laptop
Perpetrators can face huge fines and imprisonment, with terms up to ten years -Credit:Photothek via Getty Images

Amazon Fire TV Stick users have been warned of a potential £50K fine as a strong crackdown on illegal streaming leads to home raids becoming 'inevitable'.

High profile raids on illegal operations are being carried out as UK authorities, including the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), work tirelessly to combat the offence. The fight against digital piracy has intensified since the passing of the Digital Economy Act in 2017, which gave UK law enforcement more robust tools to aggressively pursue and prosecute those involved.

In the UK, it's an offence to illegally stream under copyright law. Those found guilty can face hefty fines and imprisonment, with sentences up to ten years. Individuals distributing illegal streams have faced fines upwards of £50,000, reports the Mirror.

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While viewers who utilise illegal streaming services typically face lesser fines, they can still be penalised up to several thousand pounds. Additionally, they've been warned about the cyber risks associated with using unauthorised streaming websites.

These sites often host malware and other cyber threats that can compromise personal data and damage devices. The security risks associated with illegal streaming are significant, often resulting in severe data theft or hardware issues for unsuspecting users.

Alex Hemming, a sports analyst from Free Bets Ireland issued a stern warning. He said: "The risks associated with illegal streaming of sports in the UK are significant and multifaceted.

"The potential for hefty fines, criminal prosecution, and personal data compromise makes illegal streaming a risky endeavour. With more legitimate streaming options available than ever, choosing to view sports through official channels is not only the legal choice but the smarter one."

This happens in the backdrop of increased popularity of modified Fire TV Sticks, offering access to premium TV channels including Sky Sports and Cinema, but with an attractive reduction in price. This has prompted criminals to capitalise on this trend by selling these "fully loaded" Fire TV Sticks either as a one-time purchase or in exchange for nominal monthly payments.

Even though it's turned into a lucrative sector, it hasn't escaped the notice of authorities and the police across the UK have begun to crack down against such sellers. A series of raids were conducted throughout the country resulting in the arrest of one individual while another ten were questioned under caution.

These operations were carried out in partnership with FACT and the Premier League and their collective goal was to put an end to the unlawful streaming. Though individuals using these devices weren't targeted in these efforts, the risk of utilising tampered tech equipment carries certain dangers, a fact which the police have highlighted.

Detective Chief Inspector Emma Warbey, from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police said: "Illegal streaming is a huge issue for the industry and while it may seem like a low-risk, high-reward crime, the proceeds are used to fund other serious forms of criminal activity. At the same time, it can expose end users to the risks of data theft, fraud and malware.

"By targeting grassroots sellers, we are sending out a clear message that this will not be tolerated. PIPCU will continue to work with partners across law enforcement and the industry to take action against those who provide illegal streaming services and protect consumers against the risks associated with using them."

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