Source: Bleeping Computer
Europol announced today that 30,506 Internet domain names have been shut down for distributing counterfeit and pirated items, as part of a joint global operation between law enforcement authorities from the EU and the United States.
The joint investigation was carried out by law enforcement teams from 18 different EU member states, private sector partners, the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), and the Europol, with the help of the INTERPOL and Eurojust.
The domain names were used for selling various pirated products and services, as well as counterfeit goods, including but not limited to “counterfeit pharmaceuticals and pirated movies, illegal television streaming, music, software, electronics, and other bogus products.”
As part of this global scale investigation, the officials also “arrested 3 suspects, seized 26 000 luxury products (clothes, perfumes), 363 liters of alcoholic beverages, and many hardware devices,” the Europol says. “They identified and froze more than €150 000 in several bank accounts and online payment platforms.”
The project is part of a much larger scale global effort dubbed ‘Operation In Our Sites’ that started back in 2014 and it is designed to make the Internet safer.
“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,” the Europol adds.
This year’s edition led to the seizure of over 30,000 Internet domain names and the arrest of three suspects is called ‘In Our Sites X’ (IOS X).
Law enforcement agencies from Albania, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Hong Kong,China, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States were involved throughout the investigation.
Over 1 million domain names seized last year
In November 2018, a joint-task force agency led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with the help of the US IPR Center 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 [..]” as part of project ‘Transatlantic IX’, part of Operation In Our Sites.
Another 33,600 domain names were also criminally seized in cooperation with Europol, Interpol and police agencies from 26 different countries.
In all, the law enforcement teams that took part in the operation were able to seize 1.21 million domain names and to remove 2.2 million e-commerce links on third-party marketplaces and social media leading to copyright-infringing websites.
“The international trade in counterfeit products represents up to 2.5 % of world trade, or as much as EUR 338 billion, according to 2013 data. Put in perspective, this is the equivalent of Austria’s GDP, or the combined GDP of Ireland and the Czech Republic,” the Europol states.
“The impact of counterfeiting is particularly high in the European Union, where counterfeit and pirated products make up to 5 % of imports, or as much as EUR 85 billion.”