Illegal Streaming Devices - FAQs

If you've any questions about ilegal streaming devices, please see our most frequently asked questions below.

1. What are ‘dodgy/illegal streaming devices’?
In our campaign ‘dodgy streaming devices’ refers to set-top boxes or sticks that use illegal apps and add-ons to enable you to access pirated content such as movies currently in the cinema, TV that hasn’t yet aired in the UK, and subscription sports channels that would normally need to be paid for. In the main, the devices themselves are perfectly legal.  However, criminals who sell them have often configured them to allow illegal streaming.

2. What is meant by the term fully loaded?
When the device has been configured with illegal apps and add-ons to allow streaming it is often termed ‘fully loaded’.  Sometimes the devices are loaded up by the seller or sometimes they are sold blank with instructions on how to access pirated content.

3. Is a so called ‘Kodi box’ illegal?
Kodi is the brand name of an open-source software media player and entertainment hub. The software itself is legal but some add-ons and apps which are developed to give access to content which should be paid for, are illegal. The name ‘Kodi’ is often used as a generic name for this type of box even if they do not necessarily run the Kodi software – there are lots of other examples of other legal software, such as Plex, which are used to run illegal apps and add-ons on these devices.

4. Why should the issue of dodgy streaming devices matter to me?
There are five main reasons this issue could affect you:

  • By watching content on devices loaded with these illegal apps or add-ons you are breaking the law.
  • People involved in sharing and distributing content illegally, and those distributing/selling these devices, are often involved in more serious crimes which could impact you or your community.
  • You could also be giving criminals your personal details, putting you at risk of identity theft and fraud if you subscribe to content via illegal apps or add-ons.
  • Your children could be at risk of seeing inappropriate content as these devices do not have effective parental controls.
  • During recent product safety tests on streaming devices in the UK, 100% of devices tested failed to meet national electrical safety regulations - these devices could therefore pose substantial fire and electrical risks to customers.

 Visit our Know the risks and Know the facts pages to find out more…

5. Are these devices unsafe to use?
During recent product safety tests on streaming devices in the UK, 100% of devices tested failed to meet national and EU electrical safety regulations - these devices could therefore pose substantial fire and electrical risks to customers.

6. Are Crimestoppers trying to catch people using/watching these boxes?
We are not focusing on getting information about those watching but we do want to make people aware that it is against the law to stream content from illegal apps and add-ons, as well as raise awareness of the potential risks involved.

We are only actively seeking information on those loading, advertising, distributing or installing apps and add-ons onto illegal devices.

7. What punishment could I get for buying, selling or using an illegal streaming device?
If you sell, distribute or watch content using a dodgy streaming device or illegal apps or add-ons then you are breaking the law.

Suppliers of these devices have received significant fines and jail time. For example, a seller of dodgy devices was sentenced to four years in prison at the end of last year. Read more about this story here.

8. How are my children at risk of seeing inappropriate content?
The parental controls that can be set on set-top boxes do not extend to illegal apps and add-ons, leaving children at risk of being exposed to age-inappropriate or explicit content or pop-ups. Apps providing access to films and TV content may intermingle pornographic and/or violent content with more family friendly material. The watershed also won’t apply.

9. How could these devices compromise my personal security?
There are a number of ways hackers can access your computer, smartphone, tablet or smart TV if you stream illegal content. Manipulating subtitle text files to include malicious software is one example of how they can do this. These subtitle files can be corrupted with malware, which anti-piracy software may struggle to detect. Once installed, it's possible for the hackers to take complete control of the device being used to stream the content, potentially giving them access to all sorts of personal information.

10. What shall I do if I know someone selling these devices?
Tell us anonymously and together we can keep this crime out of your community. Call 0800 555 111 or visit our Anoymous Online Form.

11. I know someone who is selling/distributing these devices, but I’m scared they will find out I have passed on information to Crimestoppers.
Crimestoppers guarantees your anonymity and will never pass on information containing any identifying features. There is no way that anyone will find out that you contacted us, you will never have to speak to the police or go to court. We do not record phone calls or track computer IP addresses. You will be 100% anonymous. Always.

12. What does Crimestoppers do with the information they receive about people selling dodgy streaming devices?
Information is passed to the relevant police force, IPO (the UK’s Intellectual Property Office) and other law enforcement agencies for them to investigate.

13. Where can I find out about how to stream content legally?
The following sites can help you identify how to access legal content.
Get it right from a genuine site (for all types of online content)
Findanyfilm (specifically for film and TV)
Which Film Finder (an interactive tool that allows you to search your favourite show or film).

Visit our Know the risks and Know the facts to find out more about this crime. You can also watch videos to educate you on ilegal streaming on Crimestoppers YouTube channel.