Do Pirate IPTV Clients “Support Human Trafficking and Arms Trade”? * TorrentFreak
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Over the years, entertainment companies have frequently claimed that by using pirate services, users help finance other crimes. Just recently, a Forbes article warning that, among other things, pirate IPTV providers are also involved in human trafficking, arms trading, and drug shipments. Read on ….
There is no doubt that over the past 20 years online piracy has transformed in many ways. While not yet completely dead, the original “sharing is caring” ethic is now eclipsed by what is a largely commercial network of for-profit hacking services.
In most jurisdictions, the operators of commercial piracy services commit crimes ranging from copyright infringement to money laundering and fraud. So, by definition, pirate sites are run by criminals. Additionally, if they do business consistently with even a small team, they may be officially labeled as an Organized Crime Group (OCG).
This elevation of the status of copyright infringers is useful for rights holders. Instead of costly and unpredictable civil actions, law enforcement can be encouraged to initiate criminal proceedings with the prospect of prison sentences for offenders. None of this is particularly new, but in recent years the opportunity to “level up” hackers in the eyes of the public and policymakers has proven too good to be missed.
The problem, it seems, is that Joe Public doesn’t really consider streaming a movie or TV show to be a particularly serious business. Most people also don’t think that media piracy should take priority over burglaries, car theft, large-scale drug trafficking, violent crime, child abuse, or similar exploitation.
But what if there was a subtle way to directly link illegal streaming to the most vile of crimes, crimes that most people really care about?
The title of a recent Forbes The article promised exactly that: “Sweden: Up to 600,000 IPTV users support human trafficking every month,” he said. If you don’t worry about the hack, it might change your mind, he suggested.
Much of the article focuses on Sweden’s issues with IPTV providers, their reseller networks, and users purchasing their subscriptions. In a nutshell, Sweden should be tougher on people buying pirate subscriptions, but it can’t because the law and funding for law enforcement is lacking. The same is true of IPTV resellers, despite the estimated $ 45 million per year that they funnel to “organized crime groups” providing the illegal streams.
It’s completely understandable that Sweden doesn’t have the resources to tackle hundreds of thousands of end users, but surely funding is available to tackle the most heinous crimes?
“The effects of the hundreds of thousands of clients transferring funds on a monthly basis to organized crime groups are underestimated. Because of their huge and continuous flow of funds, these organizations support everything from human trafficking to arms trafficking, ”said Anders Braf, CEO of the Nordic Content Protection Agency, according to Forbes.
The article goes even further. He cites law enforcement sources who say pirate IPTV providers are also closely linked to other major crimes, including child abuse and drug shipments. If true, it could be the PR stunt the entertainment industries need, but like the overwhelming majority of similar claims made in the past, no evidence is provided.
According to Forbes, the reason these claims were not confirmed is because law enforcement officials interviewed insisted that details not be disclosed in the article in order to protect “investigative tactics” . They could of course have cited previous public cases where operators of pirate sites were also jailed for arms trafficking or, indeed, those where smugglers were also convicted for providing pirate feeds. Unfortunately, and to our knowledge, there is none.
This is where the problem lies. If pirate IPTV subscribers want to be convinced that their purchases are causing unspeakable misery, they will need more than a few anonymous quotes to change their ways. But, more importantly, there’s a much bigger picture than that.
Al Capone, despite a long list of terrible crimes, was ultimately jailed for tax evasion. So, given that there is no money available in Sweden to deal with pirate IPTV providers, vendors or customers, why don’t the police focus on the bigger issues instead? If they manage to round up arms traffickers, smugglers and child molesters (apparently already known to anti-piracy groups in the country) and prosecute them for these crimes, pirate IPTV disruption should be a welcome by-product.
This is all easier said than done, anyone can see it. But, in trying to tie streaming to some of the worst crimes, it actually draws even more attention to the fact that there are much more serious crimes that rightly deserve priority.
No one is suggesting that pirate IPTV isn’t a big deal for media companies, it absolutely is. To use their terminology, they have their property stolen every day. Anyone would say the same about their position since millions of profits are at stake, money which – by legal definition – is unmistakably embezzled by criminals.
But of course the general public already knows, it’s just that they don’t consider their viewing to be particularly serious. One day, perhaps, they will see real evidence that will change their mind. We’ll be ready to report it in detail, but until then we’ll take all of those claims with a pinch of salt.