Europol Shuts Down Over 30,500 Piracy Websites

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) announced Monday it has shut down over 30,500 domain names for distributing counterfeit and pirated items, as part of a coordinated global law enforcement crackdown led by the EU and the United States.

According to a release, the operation was joined by law enforcement authorities from 18 different EU member states, along with the help of Interpol, Europol, and the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Centre.

Among the countries involved include Albania, Belgium, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, China, the United States, and more.

Europol ’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC³) supported the investigation on the ground by deploying experts with a mobile office,” wrote the agency in a press release.

“Europol officers carried out real-time information exchange and cross-checks of the data gathered during the course of the action against Europol’s databases. In addition, IPC3 experts organised several online investigation techniques training courses in intellectual property infringements in 2019 with law enforcement authorities all over Europe,” it added.

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Europol Shuts Down Piracy Websites

Aside from the 30,506 domain names that have been seized, authorities during the operation were also able to seize 26,000 luxury products, 363 litres of alcoholic beverages, and an unspecified number of hardware devices. The officials were also able to identify and freeze more than €150,000 from several bank accounts and online payment platforms.

The operation comes as part of an ongoing anti-piracy campaign led under Europol’s ‘In Our Sites X’ (IOS X), along with the help of European Union member states and international law enforcement.

“‘Our Sites’ (IOS), launched in 2014, is the continuation of a recurrent joint global operation that has increased significantly year-on-year,” the statement explained.

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“The operation is the result of the comprehensive approach which Europol follows with the aim of making the internet a safer place for consumers, by getting even more countries and private sector partners to participate in this operation and providing referrals,” it continued

In 2018, the In Our Sites initiative was able to shut down more than 1 million copyright-infringing website domain names selling counterfeit automotive parts, electrical components, personal care items, and other fake goods through a joint-task force agency led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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