Today, one of the largest pirate IPTV services was taken offline by the Dutch fiscal police (FIOD). Four people were arrested while searches were carried out at various business and residential addresses, where cars, computers, bank accounts and large sums of cash were confiscated.
The raids and searches were carried out in multiple cities throughout the Netherlands including Amsterdam, Almere, Enschede, The Hague, and Den Helder.
The name of the IPTV operation is not mentioned by the authorities but it appears to be massive. Local anti-piracy group BREIN reports that TVs in hundreds of thousands of homes went dark due to the raids. Europol, which also assisted in the operation, mentions that the service had over a million users across Europe.
BREIN applauds the action and notes that it will file criminal charges on behalf of several major rightsholders, several of which have already indicated that they want to join the case.
The IPTV service, which charged a monthly subscription fee of roughly 10 euros, carried more than 10,000 TV channels. It also offered access to 15,000 on-demand movies and TV series from popular services such as Disney+ and Netflix, causing substantial damages.
“This is the largest criminal investigation by the Dutch fiscal police FIOD and the Dutch prosecution into digital piracy in the Netherlands ever,” says BREIN director Tim Kuik commenting on the news.
“Illegal IPTV is the most serious threat to legal offerings of movies, series, television and sports broadcasts. This case concerns a criminal organization behind the large-scale sale of illegal IPTV subscriptions in the Netherlands and elsewhere. It involves tens of millions of euros in damages in the Netherlands alone.”
Kuik informs TorrentFreak that he prefers not to name any of the persons or companies involved. However, hr confirms that the targeted organization supplied third-party sellers, both online and through physical shops.
Data Center Offline?
Dutch police highlight that the IPTV service was distributed from a data center in Den Helder. While we can only speculate, this could be GLOBE DataCenter, whose office is located there. The data center’s website is unreachable at the time of writing so the entire network could be offline.
TorrentFreak reached out to GLOBE for a comment but the company didn’t immediately reply. However, these suspicions are strengthened (not confirmed) by a photo of the police action in a Dutch news report, which features the office of GLOBE.
Further details will likely come out as the investigation and the potential prosecution progresses.
This certainly isn’t the first large-scale IPTV takedown in Europe. We have seen several of these operations in other countries, including Spain where an ‘unnamed’ IPTV service with two million users was pulled offline.
Apparently, other IPTV services continue to step up to fill the void. This is no surprise; to some people, a potential revenue stream of one billion euros per year sounds like an opportunity, rather than a threat. However, today’s action shows that the risk isn’t just hypothetical.
Update: Additional research shows that hundreds of IPTV related domains/brands and IP-addresses have indeed gone dark. We’ll continue to investigate the fallout and people who have additional information can reach out here.
Update May 25: Several innocent companies were taken down as part of the raid.