Anti-piracy campaigners are taking aim at an unexpected new target

Anti-piracy campaigners have turned their attention to a potentially surprising set of companies: payment processors.

The Premier League recently fired barbs at proponents of VPNs, and now cyber security firm Irdeto has accused major payment platforms of “enabling pirates to get away with content theft”, and has called on companies like Visa and MasterCard to cut all support for sites that break the law.

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It has published the findings of a new study, in which it analysed more than 400 active IPTV streaming sites, to find out how they receive money from their users.

“Our analysis revealed 76% of them openly advertised the payment methods that they support,” Mark Mulready, Irdeto’s VP of cybersecurity services, wrote in a blog post that was first spotted by TorrentFreak.

“The majority of sites offered multiple payment methods. Visa and MasterCard were the clear leaders, each accounting for 21% of all payment methods advertised. PayPal was next at 14%, followed by American Express (9%) and Discover (7%).”

Image credit: Irdeto

Interestingly, cryptocurrencies only accounted for around 4% of payment method mentions on the sites Irdeto scoured. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bitcoin was “by far” the most popular crypto payment option.

Cryptocurrencies have long been linked to criminal activities, largely because of the relative anonymity many of them offer. However, for piracy at least, it appears that big-name payment platforms are far more popular.

“What this data confirms is that pirates depend heavily on leading payment platforms to help them gather subscription and pay per view revenue,” the blog post continues.

“But of course, legitimate media companies also process a huge volume of payments online. In many cases, they’re relying on exactly the same financial platforms that pirates are using to rip them off.

“Surely, it’s time for the payment platforms to support legitimate media organisations by conducting better due diligence and stopping support for these pirate IPTV streaming sites? These platforms should be able to identify and suspend sites that are offering illegal content.”

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Mulready added: “If media organisations threaten to vote with their feet against payment platforms that enable piracy, it’ll be fascinating to see who blinks first.”

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