Operation 404: Brazilian authorities crack down on piracy in the metaverse

The apps and streaming services deactivated as part of the operation also captured user information.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

Brazil's Ministry of Justice and Public Security announced that it has carried out its first search within the metaverse as part of an operation aimed at tackling digital piracy and crimes against intellectual property. 

Dubbed Operation 404, the initiative is in its fourth iteration. On June 21, the Brazilian authorities arrested at least a dozen individuals across various states nationwide, with several false profiles and pages on social media taken down. Some 266 illegal sites also were deactivated, in addition to 53 sites from the United Kingdom and six from the United States. More than 700 streaming apps and 461 music apps, with millions of active users, were blocked. Four channels that broadcasted illegal content transmissions were also taken off air, as well as 90 videos. 

This was the first time the investigations under Operation 404 took place in the metaverse. The main focus of the operation is to tackle copyright infringement, which generates annual losses of 15 billion Brazilian reais ($2.8 billion) a year.

"Criminals advertised events on social media and carried out illegal broadcasts. Our fight against piracy is constant. We are increasingly specializing in curbing these practices and identifying new crimes," said Alessandro Barreto, the coordinator of Cyber Operations Laboratory at the Secretariat of Integrated Operations of the Ministry of Justice and Security (SEOPI).

According to SEOPI's Cyber Operations Lab, CiberLab, around 75% of the apps and streaming services investigated capture user information. Moreover, the authorities have found that through the user's network, it is possible to access data such as email, passwords, and bank records. The individuals investigated also used transmission and content devices known as "boxes" to steal the personal details.

The penalty for digital piracy in Brazil is two to four years of imprisonment and a fine. The individuals being investigated under Operation 404 may also be indicted for criminal association and money laundering.

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