Italy-led action shutters 5,500 pirate sites

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A Europe-wide operation headed by Italy’s Guardia di Finanza (Financial Police) has led to the closure of over 5,500 illegal live streaming sites and more than 350 Telegram channels.

The operation, named ‘The Perfect Storm’ and coordinated by the Naples Public Prosecutor’s Office, targeted a network that broadcast football matches and sports events via illegal IPTV streaming platforms.

The illegal network had ramifications in 12 European countries: Malta, Spain, Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Slovenia, Sweden, Belgium, Romania, the Netherlands and France.

A total of 30 search and seizure orders were executed in Italy and abroad; 100 house and local searches were carried out against the main Italian re-sellers; 334 PayPal accounts were seized, as well as €10.6 million in cash.

The illegal network consisted of computer platforms that transformed the copyright-protected video signals from the main pay-TV and OTT services into data flows redistributed through servers in data centres located around the world.

The investigations were carried out using innovative technological tools including Artificial Intelligence software for the analysis of Big Data. These resources enabled the identification of each member of the association, the entire network of re-sellers in Italy, as well as the more than 50 million illegal users worldwide, of which about 5 million in Italy alone.

According to the Guardia di Finanza, those subscribing to the illegal services risk six months to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to €25,822.


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