State government tightens its noose around illegal, pirated websites

Updated: Jul 12, 2018, 08:56 IST | Rahul Mahajani

Cyber crime unit sends notices to top banks, MNCs, e-commerce portals and start-ups, asking them to withdraw their ads from such sites or face prosecution

State government tightens its noose around illegal, pirated websites

In a bid to economically stifle illegal and pirated websites, the Maharashtra cyber digital crime unit (MCDCU) has sent notices to top banks, e-commerce portals, multi-national companies (MNCs) and start-ups, asking them to withdraw their advertisements from such sites or face prosecution.

Showing Sanju and football
Apart from these corporate entities, MCDCU has even asked e-payment getaways to not provide services to these unauthorised websites. This missive came about after MCDCU recently found that movies, such as Sanju, and the football World Cup are being illegally streamed on those websites.

While Sanju was blocked on seven sites - linked to a popular social media website - showing it, nine websites illegally streaming the football World Cup matches were blocked. Most of these sites had over 10 million views per month. As per officials, MCDCU has prepared a six-point programme (see box) to bring down websites illegally showing Bollywood and Hollywood movies, TV serials, porn, and live sports, especially cricket and football. Many of them also contain malware that puts the user's data at risk, officials said.

So far, through the six-point programme, the unit has shut down 42 such websites with a monthly viewership of over 100 million. Officials added that over 4,000 websites were under their scanner and they have sent a proposal to shut down 56 such websites to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Maharashtra superintendent of police (cyber) Bal Singh Rajput said that their unit had shut 42 websites so far, and they'd given notices to companies informing them they would be prosecuted if they continue to give ads on such sites. The companies had to inform the cops whether they wished to stop or continue supporting these sites.

State cyber digital crime unit's six-point programme
* Disruption of services: This makes the cost of running the website more expensive than the proceeds of the crime. Starts with writing to the registry and the data centres of the site.
* Asking the intermediary: Next is asking intermediaries - the telecom service provider and internet service provider - to not host the website.
* Involving the government: The third step is to write to the Union ministries, requesting them to block the sites.
* Registering cases: The fourth step was to register criminal cases against the sites that will legally engage the host.
* Targeting brands: Then comes targeting brands, asking them not to put up advertisements. The sites were informed that their brands were big and putting their ads on pirated websites will lower their standards.
* Payment getaways: The last step involves asking e-payment getaways not to allow transactions on these sites by using their platform.

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