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NEWS 15 June 2017

City of London police clampdown on illegal torrent sites with gambling adverts

By Robert Simmons
Research commissioned following a City of London Police crackdown on gambling adverts appearing on illegal torrent websites found that it has caused an 87% drop in adverts appearing on these sites over the last 12 months.

The research was carried out by whiteBULLET; a data company that specialises in brand safety solutions and providing transparency on digital advertising on IP infringing websites.

Operation Creative, launched in 2013 was spearheaded by the City Of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and aims to disrupt illegal websites providing pirated access to films, TV, books, music and computer games.

It also took action to stop licensed gambling operators from inadvertently providing additional revenue to operators of pirate websites and thus contravening their anti criminal funding obligations under the Gambling Act 2005.

In October 2016, the UK Gambling Commission made placing digital adverts responsibly a licensing condition for all gambling operators targeting consumers and obligated them take all reasonable steps to ensure that third parties under contract with them take the same approach.

The second part of the operation involved the launch of the Infringing Websites List (IWL), a police endorsed regularly updated list of copyright infringing sites which can be accessed by member gambling operators.

PIPCU Investigators then slowly compiled a list of illegal torrent websites found to be utilising gambling adverts in their websites, working with the 40 gambling operators who hold a Gambling Commission licence and are current members of the IWL to stop advert placement on these websites.

In a press release announcing the figures Acting Detective Superintendent Peter Ratcliffe, Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), said: “The success of a strong relationship built between PIPCU and The Gambling Commission can be seen by these figures. This is a fantastic example of a joint working initiative between police and an industry regulator.

“We will continue to encourage all UK advertisers to become a member of the Infringing Website List to ensure they’re not inadvertently funding criminal websites”

Paul Hope, Gambling Commission programme director Paul Hope, added: “The Gambling Commission is committed to ensuring gambling is free from crime. This is why we brought in a requirement that all operators must not place digital advertisements on websites providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content.

“The result of this latest initiative speaks for itself, and we are delighted with these figures.”

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