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45 charged after Italian police operations bars 1.5 million for illegally streaming content

An Italian police operation involving over 200 officers has charged 45 people and seized control of an IT system used to disseminate illegal streams, blocking 1.5 million users in a crackdown on unauthorized content.

A statement released on Friday confirmed the operation run by the Catania Postal Police, alongside the Postal and Communications Police Service of Rome, has cut off 1.5 million users who were viewing unauthorized content using IPTV technology, removing 80% of the illegal flow.

Forty-five people have been formally charged in the crackdown for criminal association, unauthorized access to the computer system, computer fraud, and reproduction and dissemination of intellectual property via the internet.

The IPTV technology saw individuals pay €10 per month to watch content from DAZN, Mediaset, Netflix, Sky and other platforms, giving the criminal enterprise a monthly turnover of €15 million ($18.16 million).

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To limit the ability of those behind the system to continue operating, police seized a central IT system used to provide users with access to unauthorized content, cutting of 80% of the illegally streamed material.

Conducting raids on the homes of individuals who were arrested, police seized computer servers, illegal devices used to stream content and tens of thousands of euros that was thought to have been gained through criminal activity.

The police operations come over a year after Italy’s Financial Police launched legal action against IPTV technology for distributing pirated content, having identified 223 individuals they believed were behind the subscription surface. 

While it is not clear if Italian authorities will seek to charge individuals who paid for the service, they have warned that customers could be liable for criminal prosecution, including imprisonment of up to eight years and a €25,000 fine.

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