Thousands of Kodi and IPTV users to be sent police letters warning they are being watched
Thousands of people suspected of streaming films and TV illegally will receive a letter warning they could face five years in jail.
Police will write to suspected subscribers of a service called GE Hosting, warning that they are committing a crime and that they are being monitored.
The unprecedented letter is thought to be the first of its kind to be aimed at consumers of illegal streaming services.
Before, police have targeted those behind piracy, like those selling ‘loaded’ streaming devices such as Kodi and IPTV boxes.
Most of the prosecutions have involved people who have made five or six-figure sums from the scam.
However after acquiring Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary are thought to have uncovered a list of GE Hosting’s subscribers earlier this year after executing a warrant.
“This is a hugely significant step by Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary and one that has our full support,” said Kieron Sharp, CEO of the Federation Against Copyright Theft.
“It sends a really clear message to those facilitating this illegal activity and additionally to those choosing to consume content in this way – users of illegal services are accountable for their actions and they will be pursued.
“This will be an alarming wake-up call for people who use illegal streams. No one wants the police knocking on their door.”
list of subscribers to the service after having carried out a warrant earlier this year. have taken the unprecedented step of issuing individual warning notices to thousands of consumers believed to have been using an illegal TV streaming service.
The letter, from the force’s Cyber, Intelligence and Serious Organised Crime Directorate, will warn users that besides possible prison and a criminal letter, they could also be fined.
It also makes clear that Police will continue to monitor subscribers’ behaviour and that should recipients ignore the instruction to cease illegal streaming it could lead to further investigation and even prosecution.
The list of subscribers is said to have been found on June 30, when officers arrested a man in connection with suspected illegal streaming of premium TV channels and other copyrighted material.
The service was allegedly being distributed to tens of thousands of customers before being shut down by officers.
The action is the latest in a series of raids and subsequent prosecutions designed to crackdown on illegal streaming and those profiting from it.
Last week, Paul Jaques, 44, from Pontefract was sentenced to two years in prison for selling illicit streaming devices.
In June this year, Mark Schofield, 49, from Radcliffe was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years for selling devices that provided access to paid-for content including sport and films via his Facebook page.
This followed the conviction of Daniel Aimson, 39, from Astley who was sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. Aimson sold illegal devices that bypassed paid-for TV content – costing legitimate service providers more than £2million.
“The running of illegal streaming services is a serious crime and by paying for these services consumers are giving their money directly to criminals,” added Mr Sharp.
“This is not a grey area. Piracy is illegal and you run the risk of prosecution and a criminal conviction.”