Set-top boxes help deliver streaming services like Netflix and Now TV into our homes, but they're also giving rise to less-than legal methods of watching films, TV shows and sport. As manufacturers have embraced the open nature of Android, enterprising users have found ways to install apps that facilitate piracy, which has become a business in its own right. This week, a number of police forces conducted raids on sellers of "pirate" Android streamers, confiscating thousands of units in the process.
On June 30th, the Metropolitan Police's London Regional Intelligence Unit, with help from the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) and Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), seized over 2,000 set-top boxes and a "large quantity of sat-navs" in dawn raids on properties in Feltham and Sunbury. In Dudley, West Midlands Police found 35 streamers along with "computers, mobile phones and sat-navs" in a bust on the same day.
While many Android-powered devices can be easily be altered to run pirate apps at home, police and copyright authorities are mainly targeting people who sell pre-programmed boxes on a large scale. It suggests that Brits are moving away from torrents and browser-based streams in the pursuit of dedicated streamers that purely deliver illegal streams, something that Apple TV and Roku boxes can't do without complex workarounds.