Illegal streaming devices pose fire risk, warn safety experts

Illicit streaming devices pose electrical and fire risks to consumers, a new report has revealed.

Electrical Safety First (ESF) teamed up with Fact, an intellectual property protection organisation, to conduct safety tests on popular illegal streaming devices entering the UK.

The results found that 100 per cent of the devices failed to meet national electrical safety regulations.

Data from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) estimated that more than one million of these illegal devices had been sold in the UK in the past two years, which ESF said represents a “significant risk” to the general public.

The tests revealed that none of devices had been supplied, designed or manufactured in accordance with the principal elements of the safety objectives given in Schedule 1 of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Steve Curtler, product safety manager at Electrical Safety First, said: “This year consumers thinking about buying an illegal streaming device for Christmas need to know that by plugging them into their TV they could potentially be putting themselves, their home and their family at risk. We urge anyone with one of these devices to unplug it and stop using it immediately. Not only are these devices breaking the law, but they could be putting your loved ones at risk.”

In June this year, the EU issued a recall notice for the OTT TV Box 4K – a Chinese-made Kodi box – due to a “serious” risk of electric shock and called for owners of the box to stop using it immediately.

The devices had faulty power supply units that didn’t comply with Europe’s low voltage directive, which meant that users were at risk from touching live components.

Kieron Sharp, director general of Fact, commented: “The fact that so many illegal streaming devices have all failed to meet UK safety standards is shocking. Alongside the risks of exposing your home network to damaging malware and your children to inappropriate content, it should now be clear that the dangers these illegal devices pose far outweigh any benefit of buying them.

“We believe hundreds of thousands of illicit streaming devices were sold between Black Friday and Christmas last year. This year, if you want to safely and reliably enjoy premium sports, TV or films, go directly to the official provider.”

Both ESF and Fact claimed that the only way to guarantee a product is safe is to buy from known brands direct from a reputable manufacturer.

The organisations also urged users to carry out the following checks to ensure a product is safe to use”

  • Markings – look for the manufacturer’s brand name or logo, model and batch mark number. Check that there is a CE mark and that the output voltage and current ratings marked on the charge match your electrical device;
  • Pin plugs – make sure they plug in easily to the socket and there is at least 9.5mm between the edge of the pins and the edge of the charger;
  • Warnings and instructions – check that it has all the necessary instructions for use and adequate warnings.

ESF pointed out that this isn’t the first time these streaming boxes have come under scrutiny over electrical safety.

The majority of these illegal devices come unbranded, it said, which makes it harder for the consumer to know whether they are purchasing a quality product from a known manufacturer or a potentially counterfeit model.