UK crime reporting and awareness initiative Crimestoppers has launched a campaign warning of the dangers of illegally modified streaming devices.
“Advances in technology have allowed us to enjoy on-screen entertainment in more ways than ever before, with ever increasing amounts of exciting and original content. However, some people are avoiding paying for this content by using modified streaming hardware devices, like a set-top box or stick, in conjunction with software such as illegal apps or add-ons, or illegal mobile apps which allow them to watch new movie releases, TV that hasn’t yet aired, and subscription sports channels for free,” it notes.
“Watching entertainment in this way might seem harmless, but it can expose children and young people to explicit advertisements and age inappropriate content because, unlike most legal sources, these devices, apps and add-ons have no effective parental controls,” it warns.
“Many people aren’t aware that devices pre-loaded to give access to pirated content are illegal and can also be a safety and security risk. Every time you choose to watch the films, sport and TV shows you love via these apps and add-ons or other illegal sources, you and your family could be exposed to pop-ups and malware, risking your personal details falling into the hands of criminals, and slowing down your devices,” it adds.
“We want to help keep you and your family safe, which is why we are seeking information on those people who are loading, advertising and selling these devices,” it explains.
“Illegal streams are a safety and security risk. When subscribing to content you could be giving real criminals your personal information; risking identity theft, your bank account being hacked and your online passwords being left unprotected. Testing of these devices also indicates that inferior components are often used which do not meet EU and UK safety standards,” it states.
The question of such devices’ legality, is not a grey area, according to Crimestoppers. “If you load-up, advertise, market, or sell dodgy streaming devices, you are committing a crime,” it asserts. “We want to raise awareness of the risks. We are not asking for personal information about those watching content using those types of devices, but we do want to make you aware that you are breaking the law if you stream content from illegal apps and add-ons. That said, please tell us about people who are advertising, selling, loading up or supplying dodgy devices – or are directing people to use them. Tell us what you know, not who you are. We won’t judge, just listen. Once you put down the phone or click send, that is the end of our communication,” it advises .
Crimestoppers has partnered with the UK’s Intellectual Property Office and other industry partners to help protect from the impact of illegal streaming.