Switzerland-based illegal streaming service switched off

Law enforcement agencies have shut down an illegal streaming service operated by an organised criminal network based mainly in Switzerland.

Swiss police blocked the group’s website, which illegally distributed over 82,000 copyrighted pieces of multimedia content including movies and television series, and 11 servers where seized in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The gang made an estimated €1.9m ($2.25m) in profit from the sale of around 20,000 set-top boxes which operated an illegal application system that enabled viewers to use the system and access the media.

A Swiss company put a multimedia box on the market, and also played an active role in the management of the hosting servers broadcasting the content, according to a Europol report.

Officers carried out nine house searches in the countries, arrested three suspects, and seized eight Swiss bank accounts.

The investigation was triggered by complaints filed with the Swiss authorities against the Swiss company. Paid TV channels and American film studios also signalled copyright infringement activities.

The action follows another Europol-backed operation earlier in the year which took down an illegal streaming service with more than 2m subscribers, mainly in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, which is suspected of earning €15m in illicit proceeds.

There has been a spike in illegal streaming as a result of lockdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic, according to some commentators, who suggest that the fragmentation of the legal streaming market – with an ever-growing list of subscription services – is also driving uptake.

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