Consumer group warns of pirated content risk

US consumer-orientated coalition the Digital Citizens Alliance has launched new efforts to educate law enforcement, regulators, and parents about the dangers of pirated content, releasing a new video demonstrating the potential dangers of pirated movies and television shows that gets into peoples’ homes.

According to the Alliance, the rise of illegal streaming devices (ISDs) has made it easier than ever for kids to get access to illicit videos (including child pornography) and unlicensed content which is often loaded with malware that infects our electronic devices.

The video, Protect Your Data from Digital Pirating Devices and Apps, can be found on the Digital Citizens website and YouTube page.

This new educational effort comes as increasingly more ISDs – including Kodi boxes with unauthorised addons – find their way into the homes of unsuspecting consumers. Toronto-based tech company Sandvine reports that six per cent of North American households have a ‘Kodi’ device configured to access unlicensed content.

Earlier in November 2017, TVAddons (a popular library well-known for linking Kodi pirates to a wide range of unauthorised apps) claimed that millions of consumers are using ‘jailbroken’ Apple TV 2 devices with a huge security flaw which puts them at greater risk for spam, DDoS attacks, malware and access to child pornography. Apple TV 2 devices are popular with Kodi pirates. A jailbroken device can access unauthorised apps, but also lose some of the security protections created by Apple.

“There is nothing on jailbroken equipment to protect your kids from illicit and/or malicious material,” said Digital Citizens Alliance Executive Director Tom Galvin. “Pornography lives right next to popular movies. There is nothing distinguishing whether the content comes from a licensed provider or if it is stolen and laced with malware. Once that material comes in to your home and infects your devices, it’s not easy to clear it out.”

Some consumers have bought ISDs from stores and websites that also sell legitimate streaming devices, with no idea what kind of content is on those boxes they’ve brought home.

Galvin called on federal and state regulators to join with Attorneys General from more than two dozen states who have taped commercials running on television and social media asking citizens to be more alert and vigilant regarding pirated materials.

“More than half of the States’ Attorneys General and the Federal Trade Commission are telling consumers ‘beware of pirated content,’” Galvin said. “We’ve seen a lot of progress in 2017, but the bad actors are evolving even faster. Criminals will always look for new ways to funnel illegal and illicit content and they’ll target our most naïve and innocent people to be their audience. We need to let consumers know there are more options for legal and safe content than ever before. With awareness of the dangers, we believe consumers will shop for safer entertainment options.”

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