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Italian police help smash ‘world’s largest pirate TV streaming network’

Italian authorities said on Wednesday they have helped smash what they called "the world's largest" pirate streaming TV network, with five million customers in Italy alone.

Italian police help smash 'world's largest pirate TV streaming network'
An illegal streaming network allowed subscribers to view pirated content. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

Italian police stormed various locations while police in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands also carried out raids coordinated by the EU's judicial cooperation agency Eurojust.

Police arrested at least 23 suspects as part of the ongoing operation against Xtream Codes, an alleged illegal pirating operation which Eurojust said caused damages worth some €6.5 million to the market.

Italian financial police said the operation had “deactivated the largest international pirate pay TV streaming network”.

For €12, far below normal prices, subscribers to the cut-price pirate streams could access all content from such giants as Sky Italy, Netflix and Mediaset.

“The damage caused to the broadcast companies, the private sector and public institutions so far is immense,” Filippo Spiezia, Italy's representative at Eurojust, told a press conference in The Hague. “The effects created by this illegal activity include unfair competition, financial loss… and thousands of jobs put in danger,” he said.

READ ALSO: Three new Italian original series are coming to Netflix

Germany, France and the Netherlands shut down around 200 computer servers as part of the operation. Law officers also seized hardware and shut down 800 internet sites used to re-broadcast channels.

The piracy operation was allegedly created by two Greek nationals, said Valeria Sico, deputy prosecutor at the public prosecutions office in Naples. Italian media reported that the network's mastermind had been arrested in Thessaloniki, Greece.

“We discovered a new system… which was much more evolved” than previous pirating attempts, Sico said in The Hague. The gang's platform decrypted copyright protected television images and re-broadcast them on the internet “on a wide scale”.

The scheme was first discovered when police raided a home in Naples, where they found that the criminals used a new system to infiltrate legitimate pay-per-view channels, Sico said. Once the signal was intercepted, it was re-routed through internet servers in the Netherlands and France and then sent to viewers' IP addresses.

Subscriptions were advertised on a Facebook page “telling people for a small price they could access all TV channels on demand”, Sico said.

Lodewijk van Zwieten, Dutch prosecutor specialising in cybercrime, said the Netherlands shut down 93 servers based in and around The Hague.

“This was a criminal group that used a sophisticated technical network that was really intended to resist actions by the authorities,” he said.

Those responsible for the piracy face up to three years in prison and a fine of €25,000.

 

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CRIME

Italy records sharp rise in femicides over the past year

Murders of women in Italy increased by nearly 16 percent over the past year, with the vast majority committed by a partner or ex-partner.

Italy records sharp rise in femicides over the past year

Data from Italy’s interior ministry on Monday showed there were 125 femicides between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022, compared with 108 during the same period in the previous year.

Of that number, the vast majority of murders — 108 — were committed within the family sphere or an emotional context, while 68 murders, or 63 percent of the total, were committed by the victim’s partner or ex-partner, data showed.

There were a total of 319 murders in Italy in the period.

The numbers show that, on average, a woman is killed every three days in Italy.

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: ‘Violence against women conditions every aspect of our lives’

According to a November report by the European Institute for Gender Equality, Italy came in ninth out of 15 EU member states for the number of murders of women by intimate partners, based on 2018 data.

It came in tenth when looking at homicide committed by family members and relatives.

Womens’ rights campaigners say attitudes must change in Italy, where cases of violent crimes committed against women by their partners or ex-partners are often portrayed in the media as tragic stories of love gone sour, with the killers described as “jealous”.

READ ALSO: Almost half of Italian women report suffering sexual harassment

Almost 3.5 million women in Italy have been victims of stalking, according to data from national statistics agency Istat – but only 22 percent of those report the act or seek help.

Around one in three Italian women suffer abuse at some point in their life.

Femicide commonly refers to the killing of a girl or woman by a partner or family member.

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