In January 2023, the Alliance Against Pay Television Piracy (Allianz) welcomed Jorge Bacaloni as the organization’s new president.
Bacaloni is also the Regional Anti-Piracy Manager of Vrio Corp, a company comprised of DirecTV Latin America and Sky Brasil, among others. In an interview following his appointment, the anti-piracy chief stressed that public/private partnerships are a necessity in the fight against piracy.
“It is necessary for the entire industry to accept that this is a challenge for everyone and to work in coordination,” he said.
“Alianza has a very important role, but it cannot fight a huge criminal network alone, one that is growing by leaps and bounds, hand in hand with technological advances. That is why we believe that governments, in addition to creating favorable conditions for the private sector to create value, must carry out concrete actions to provide legal certainty.”
Precisely when DirecTV’s anti-piracy team filed its complaint with the authorities in Argentina isn’t clear, but it appears the type of cooperation Bacaloni called for again in June is already producing results.
Specialist Prosecutor Launches Investigation
DirecTV’s complaint focused on Digital TV, a pirate IPTV service offering around 900 live TV channels, including channels exclusive to the company in Latin America. Digital TV also had a sizeable VOD platform, 8,000 movies and 400 TV series, DirecTV reports. To round off the package, Digital TV reportedly offered live soccer and adult channels as part of a low-cost subscription deal.
Under the control of specialist cybercrime prosecutor Alejandro Musso in Buenos Aires, the investigation was carried out by Argentina’s Specialized Fiscal Unit for the Investigation of Cybercrimes (UFECI) with assistance from fraud investigators at online marketplace operator Mercado Libre.
Raids Against Pirate IPTV Provider ‘Digital TV’
After receiving authorization from a local court, law enforcement carried out raids in the Buenos Aires Province town of Ramos Mejía, and the cities of Arrecifes and Chivilcoy.
“A 22-year-old man, a computer technician with extensive knowledge of programming, was arrested in Ramos Mejía and brought to justice after being accused of being the creator of ‘Digital TV’, a platform that was used for the illegal retransmission of television signals,” a statement from DirecTV reads.
The company says that according to a preliminary inspection, the service had around 85,000 subscribers. An app associated with the service, available for download from “one of the main virtual stores” is said to have been downloaded over 100,000 times.
“The Court ordered [the app’s] immediate blocking given the million-dollar losses suffered by rightsholders due to the action of piracy,” DirecTV adds.
TorrentFreak found an app fitting that description on Google Play.
At the time of writing the app remains available on Google Play from Argentinian and overseas IP addresses. The same is true for what appears to be one of Digital TV’s websites.
TorrentFreak was independently able to link the app on Google Play directly with the website, and then link both to the developer arrested by police.
Police Traced “Mastermind” Via IP Addresses
Local media outlet La Nacion published police photographs of the suspect and identified him as local man Martin Coll, the alleged “mastermind” behind DigitalTV and just one of the players involved in TV piracy across Latin America.
“The suspect is part of one of the organizations that operates throughout Latin America, it is a million-dollar business that generates large losses for the affected companies,” a police source said.
La Nacion reported that police were able to identify Coll by tracking the IP addresses he used online. While that evidence would indeed prove useful as part of a larger package, we were able to discover the name of the “mastermind” within five minutes of downloading the Digital TV Android app from Google Play.
Whether it was a blunder or misplaced overconfidence is unclear, but the Digital TV app contains an abundance of useful information. In terms of personally identifying information, the certificates are particularly informative since they carry the developer’s full name.
Among other highly sensitive pieces of information, the app links to an API at the domain DigitalTV.cloud. Other than a default server landing page there’s no public-facing website at that address, but one does exist at another URL.
The servers indicated behind the scenes clearly formed an important part of Digital TV’s infrastructure and the authorities are obviously well aware of that since the domain is now linked to an ISP blocking notice.
As noted earlier, Coll’s anonymity was completely removed when local media published his full name and photographs, which included images of the suspect in handcuffs following his arrest. Whether that’s normal for Argentinan media is unclear but whatever the truth, local TV channel Canal26 went on to broadcast images of the suspect to 4.5 million subscribers all around the country.
When that genie escapes from the bottle, there’s no hope of returning it. In the meantime, reports suggest the developer is refusing to answer any questions. Two other men said to be resellers of the service have reportedly been identified by the authorities.