Illicit streaming devices pose electrical risk to users

New report from FACT and Electrical Safety First finds that overwhelming majority of power supplies for illicit streaming devices pose substantial fire and electrical risks to consumers.

A series of product safety tests on popular illicit streaming devices entering the UK have found that 100% fail to meet national electrical safety regulations. The findings are a result of a joint initiative between FACT and Electrical Safety First which examined the electrical safety of a number of devices.

 The news is all the more significant as the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) estimates that more than one million of these illegal devices have been sold in the UK in the last two years, representing a significant risk to the general public.

None of the illicit streaming devices that were tested had been supplied, designed or manufactured in accordance with the principal elements of the safety objectives given in Schedule 1 of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Kieron Sharp, Director General of FACT said, “The fact that so many illegal streaming devices have all failed to meet UK safety standards is shocking. Alongside the risks of exposing your home network to damaging malware and your children to inappropriate content, it should now be clear that the dangers these illegal devices pose far outweigh any benefit of buying them. We believe hundreds of thousands of illicit streaming devices were sold between Black Friday and Christmas last year. This year, if you want to safely and reliably enjoy premium sports, TV or films go directly to the official provider.”

Steve Curtler, Product Safety Manager at Electrical Safety First said, “This year consumers thinking about buying an illegal streaming device for Christmas need to know that by plugging them into their TV they could be potentially be putting themselves, their home and their family at risk. We urge anyone with one of these devices to unplug it and stop using it immediately. Not only are these devices breaking the law, but they could be putting your loved ones at risk.” 

In June, the EU issued a recall notice for the OTT TV Box 4K, a Chinese-made ‘Kodi box’ due to a serious risk of electric shock, calling for owners of the box to stop using it immediately. The devices in question had faulty power supply units which didn’t comply with Europe’s Low Voltage Directive meaning users were at risk from touching live components.

The only way to guarantee that a product is safe is to buy a known brand product direct from a reputable manufacturer. It is impossible to tell from the outside whether a modified IPTV box is electrically safe. To stay safe, once you receive any electrical product, make sure you carry out the following checks:

  • Markings – look for the manufacturers’ brand name or logo, model and batch mark number. Check that there is a CE mark and that the output voltage and current ratings marked on the charge match your electrical device.
  • Pin plugs – that they plug in easily to the socket and there is at least 9.5mm between the edge of the pins and the edge of the charger
  • Warnings and instructions – it has all the necessary instructions for use and adequate warnings.

UK and European law is clear on the illegality of selling and using modified fully-loaded IPTV boxes. A number of sellers of these boxes have recently been sentenced and in April the European Court of Justice ruled that using one of these devices to watch or stream copyrighted content is breaking the law.

For more information and advice around electrical safety, particularly around IPTV boxes visit: https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/electrical-items/iptv-boxes/

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