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IP addresses of illegal streamers using ‘dodgy’ Amazon Firesticks could be passed on, authorities warn

Amazon fire stick TV remote in hand
There has been another development in the crackdown on so-called 'dodgy' Amazon Firesticks. (Stock image: Getty)

It could soon be even easier for the authorities to find people using 'dodgy' Amazon TV Firesticks to watch content for free in the latest development in a crackdown on internet pirates.

A clampdown on pirates is underway after broadcasters and sports leagues complained they are losing out on huge sums of money as people use modified Firesticks to watch things like sport or paid-for films without paying.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT UK), which clamps down on copyright theft, has been carrying out an operation to crack down on people using the devices, sending cease-and-desist notices and issuing legal warnings in person, by post and by email, threatening further action against those who fail to comply.

Now, a new ruling in a commercial court in Spain could reportedly make it even riskier for illegal streamers, especially those watching football, allowing legal action to be taken directly against users who download and consume pirated football. The ruling means internet service providers will be forced to send the IP address of any individual found guilty of illegal streaming directly to Spanish football league La Liga.

Here is everything you need you need to know about the so-called 'dodgy' firesticks, including what they are and what the risks are if you use one:-

What are 'dodgy' Firesticks?

The firesticks are normal Amazon Firesticks that have been modified so people can watch exclusive channels, sports matches, and paid-for content for free.

They essentially allow the illegal streaming of sporting events and films on paid-for platforms like Sky and Netflix, and have prompted complaints from broadcasters and sports leagues due to the loss of revenue sustained because of internet pirates and people using these Firesticks.

The use of the devices, which can also include USB sticks and other boxes plugged into your TV, is believed to have grown - in part due to the cost of living crisis and rise in subscription charges by some streaming sites.

Ironically, England captain Harry Kane was jokingly accused of using some kind of 'dodgy box' in an exchange on CBS when he appeared to reveal that he had watched a Sky broadcast whilst in Germany.

What is the current crackdown on dodgy Firesticks?

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT UK) has launched a crackdown in the UK, sending cease and desist letters as well as visiting users in person.

FACT UK has previously said: "Fact constantly monitors the digital landscape to combat illegal streaming activities in the UK and Ireland. We utilise a range of methods to identify individuals engaged in unauthorised businesses that offer access to illegal streams.

"One of these methods is through our partnership with Crimestoppers to make it as easy as possible to report illegal streaming, and over the past year, we have seen a significant increase in the number of reports directly linked to Firesticks and illegal streaming.

"These reports are then investigated by our Intelligence Unit, and followed up with a rolling programme of action which includes issuing 'Cease and Desist' letters and conducting nationwide 'Knock and Talks'.

"These home visits, undertaken in conjunction with law enforcement, serve to inform individuals about their activities and the immediate need to cease and desist or face further action or prosecution. We also work In close collaboration with law enforcement to gather further evidence to actively pursue legal actions against these criminal entities."

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: A TV Cameraman working ahead of the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal FC at Selhurst Park on August 21, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Broadcasters have urged action amid fears of a loss of revenue due to pirate streamers. (Stock image: Getty)

What is the punishment if you use a dodgy firestick?

Section 11 of the Fraud Act 2006 covers 'obtaining services dishonestly' and if found guilty, it could carry a 12 month spell in prison, or a maximum of five if the offence was more serious.

While it is unlikely those viewing illegally streamed content would face time behind bars, those caught distributing the material have been routinely convicted and jailed. Five men arrested on suspicion of distributing content in 2018 went on to be jailed for up to 11 years each.

Have people been jailed for using or selling the Firesticks?

In October last year Steven Mills, 58, from Shrewsbury, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after being found to be behind a sophisticated illegal streaming service which showed Premier League matches.

Mills, who ran the organisation which sold "Firesticks" via a closed Facebook group and claimed to have more than 30,000 subscribers, pleaded guilty to multiple fraud offences at Shrewsbury Crown Court after a joint investigation by the Premier League, West Mercia Police and FACT.

He was also convicted of a separate offence for watching the illegal content he was supplying to others.

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