This has now extended to Portugal, where law enforcement agencies have carried out a rare crackdown on a locally significant operation accused of profiting from piracy.
Operation Dark Stream
According to the Polícia Judiciária (Judicial Police), the National Unit for Combating Cybercrime and Technological Crime (UNC3T) was supported by the Northern and Southern Directorates, Évora Local Criminal Investigation Unit, and the Computer Technology Expertise Unit (UPTI) in a national operation to target illegal streaming.
The various agencies link several crimes to the operation including computer-based fraud, illegitimate access, tax fraud, money laundering and criminal association.
After carrying out a total of 13 searches – nine domestic and four non-domestic, six men and three women aged between 35 and 55 were arrested, one in connection with the possession of illegal firearms.
Equipment and Property Seizures
Information provided by the Judicial Police indicates that large volumes of property were seized in the operation, including the contents of six server rooms and other items of computer equipment linked to the operation of the illegal IPTV service.
Police agencies also seized bank accounts plus around €8,000.00 in cash and a car.
Official authorities have not named the service in question but local reports have identified it as ‘IPTV Do Sogro’ (English: IPTV of the Father-in-Law), which operates from Sogrotv.com. At the time of writing the service’s web portal appears to be functional but whether that is also true for the underlying service remains unclear.
According to the authorities, the investigation began in 2019. It has not been revealed which rightsholders filed the initial complaint, However, the damage is estimated to be around half a million euros, with a “telecommunications provider” with broadcasting rights cited as the main victim.
The main point of interest was the provision of illegal streams of TV shows to at least several hundred regular subscribers, a figure that is expected to grow as the investigation develops. Local media sources indicate that the service had in excess of 1,000 customers, earning profits of 150,000 euros in the last two years.
According to Sapo.pt, the illegal distribution of TV content in Portugal breaches several laws including those relating to illegitimate access and defeating technological protection measures. Penalties range from one to five years in prison. Tax fraud and money laundering offenses also carry a potential prison sentence of up to five years.
Anti-Piracy Operations Are Relatively Rare in Portugal
Portugal is no stranger to the fight against pirate sites and services. The country implemented a ground-breaking ISP blocking scheme in 2015 that is overseen by the government but has no judicial oversight. In 2017, the then-MPAA described the program as the best international example of anti-piracy practices.
Since then, reports of anti-piracy operations targeting specific operations have been relatively rare, although the country did play an important role in the March 2021 dismantling of Mobdro, one of the world’s most popular pirate streaming apps.