Kodi boxes could kill their owners, experts warn

People are being urged to unplug the devices immediately

Aatif Sulleyman
Thursday 16 November 2017 01:01
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Kodi boxes: What are they, and why are they dangerous?

So-called “Kodi boxes” that let you stream films, TV shows and live sports for free pose “substantial” fire and electric shock risks to users, a new report has found.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and Electrical Safety First have conducted a review of a selection of “popular” illicit streaming devices, as part of a product safety assessment.

All of them failed, and several models were found to be potentially life-threatening.

Electrical Safety First tested nine “popular” Kodi boxes that were taken from a number of raids across the UK.

These tend to be cheap, unbranded devices that are pre-loaded with legal Kodi software and illegal pirate addons that let you access copyright-protected content for free.

None of the boxes complied with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

“Several of the samples were considered to offer a potential risk of injury to the user, which includes risk of electric shock and/or fire,” said Electrical Safety First.

“The product review relates primarily to the switched mode power supply units for the connection to the mains supply, which were supplied with the devices, to identify any potential risks to consumers such as electric shocks, heating and resistance to fire.

“The boxes themselves were assessed in terms of any faults in the marking, warnings and instructions.”

They’re concerning findings, with the Intellectual Property Office estimating that more than one million illicit streaming devices have been sold in the UK in the last two years.

“Given the nature of the safety issues we found, [the worst case result of one malfunctioning] would be for a fire to break out, causing severe property damage and even fatalities, and of course fatalities from electric shock,” Steve Curtler, product safety manager at Electrical Safety First, told the Independent.

Electrical Safety First hasn’t named the boxes, but says they “typically range from around £30-£100”, and that one was listed on the Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Products.

None of the devices came with sufficient safety or warning information to ensure safe and correct use, assembly, installation or maintenance of the equipment, Electrical Safety First says.

The EU issued a recall notice for the OTT TV Box 4K Kodi box due to a serious risk of electric shock in June, and a raid in Westminster in July found more than 40 illegal streaming devices that posed a potential risk of electrocution or fire.

Electrical Safety First says it has tested around 15 unbranded IPTV devices altogether, and is yet to find one that meets the minimum safety requirements.

“We urge anyone with one of these devices to unplug it and stop using it immediately,” Mr Curtler said.

Electrical Safety First says there’s no guarantee that any electrical device sold by an unknown seller will be safe to use.

It says you should carry out to following checks when you receive any electronics:

  • Look out 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 
  • Check that the pin plugs slot into the socket easily, and that there is at least 9.5mm between the edge of the pins and the edge of the charger
  • Ensure it comes with all the necessary instructions for use and adequate warnings 

“We believe hundreds of thousands of illicit streaming devices were sold between Black Friday and Christmas last year,” said Kieron Sharp, the director general of FACT.

“This year, if you want to safely and reliably enjoy premium sports, TV or films go directly to the official provider.”

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