Could ‘Kodi boxes’ be used to spy on their owners?

Kodi users that illegally stream copyrighted content could be facing a new threat that would see Kodi boxes turned into monitoring devices.

While Kodi software itself is a legal media organisation tool, users are able to download add-ons that allow for the streaming of pirated material.

Regulators and content creators have started to crack down on the practice, with one of the most popular add-on repositories, TVAddons, seemingly closing down last month.

Now, there are fears the site’s domain names could be used by anti-piracy groups to monitor the illegal streaming of media.

Related: Is Kodi legal?

As TorrentFreak reports, several TVAddons domain names were this week transferred to a Canadian law firm, with no explanation from the former site’s admins or the firm itself.

That has prompted Kodi Project Manager Nathan Betzen, to speculate about a possible scenario in which users of certain add-ons could be monitored by authorities.

Betzen told the site: “If some malware author wanted, he could easily install a watcher that reports back the user’s IP address and everything they were doing in Kodi.

“If the law firm is actually an anti-piracy group, that seems like the likeliest thing I can think of.”

Whereas users of the TVAddons site previously relied on the domains as a trusted source of add-on software, the domains are now under the control of what appears to be the Canadian law firm.

And with regulators previously struggling to identify who is using Kodi for legal purposes and who isn’t, using the domains’ status as trusted sources to install this “watcher” malware could provide an easy way of identifying those streaming pirated content.

That said, there’s absolutely no way to know that this is indeed what the firm intends to do with the domains, and seems like a worst-case scenario at this point.

But there’s undoubtedly a security concern following the transfer of three domain names formerly used by the popular TVAddons site.

Before it shuttered, the site was reportedly visited by almost 40 million unique users in March, and hosted 1,500 add-ons.

The latest development in what looks to be the slow demise of illegal Kodi use, comes as 40 “potentially dangerous” streaming boxes were seized earlier this month.

As The Independent reports, the boxes, called ‘Big Vision’, came pre-loaded with Kodi add-ons that allow for illegal streaming, and were being sold on eBay by a 53-year-old man who has been arrested.

A raid recovered the boxes which, according to Councillor Antonia Cox, Westminster Cabinet member for public protection and licensing, “could pose a risk of electrocution or fire.”

It comes as the result of an investigation carried out by Westminster Trading Standards, National Crime Agency, the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

Are Kodi’s days numbered? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.