End of an era. Unblocktech shutting down - Owners charged

Prosecutors last week charged the head of set-top box provider Unblock Tech (安博科技) for copyright contraventions involving 72 companies, including cable TV content providers Videoland and GTV.

New Taipei City prosecutors said in a statement on Saturday that the executive, surnamed Huang (黃), allegedly worked with Chinese entities to steal and replicate content from 72 companies, and upload it to Web sites with servers overseas.

That content was then made accessible to Unblock Tech customers through the company’s boxes.

The case drew considerable attention after TV host Blackie Chen (陳建州) was accused of using Unblock Tech’s services.

A probe of the allegations led to raids at three data centers and 18 other sites in New Taipei City, Taoyuan and Changhua County in October and November 2021, prosecutors said.

Eleven people were questioned and listed as suspects or witnesses, they said.

To ensure that Unblock Tech does not continue to offer its services, prosecutors said they obtained an order from the New Taipei City District Court to seize the stolen content.

Fifty-seven Web sites and IP addresses in the US had been used by Unblock Tech to distribute the content, they said.

The Ministry of Justice had asked the US Department of Justice for assistance in obtaining the IP addresses and documents pertaining to the case, they said.

Police found that Unblock Tech boxes were distributed by Pro-Media Source Technology Co (圓陽科技), headed by a man surnamed Chen (陳), through its shop at Guanghua Digital Plaza in Taipei, which had two employees, surnamed Cheng (鄭) and Lai (賴), prosecutors said.

Lai confessed to the copyright contraventions, but Huang, Chen and Cheng denied any wrongdoing and declined to provide their smartphone passwords for prosecutors to get more information, they added.

The three were also charged, prosecutors said, adding that they had asked the court to hand down heavier punishments for Huang, Chen and Cheng, as they did not cooperate with the investigation.


  • padmanpadman Moderator

    The suspected local head of notorious pirate box manufacturer Unblock Tech has been indicted in Taiwan. He stands accused of conspiring with Chinese partners to illegally obtain video content from 72 legal suppliers before illegally distributing it online via 'overseas' servers. The USDOJ got involved when servers were traced right back to the United States.

    For the past several years, Chinese-manufactured Ubox IPTV boxes have flooded the market in Taiwan.

    With more than 30% of the population using the devices, which grant access to more live streaming content than most people can consume, Taiwan came under pressure from the United States.

    Taiwan made amendments to copyright law that outlawed piracy-configured devices. Unsurprisingly, that did little to stop the flow or prevent China-based manufacturer Unblock Tech carrying on regardless.

    With Hollywood regularly reporting UnblockTech to the U.S. government as a serious piracy threat, the pressure on Taiwan continued. The tipping point came when public figures in Taiwan caused outrage after watching Olympics streams on the Chinese piracy devices.

    With further amendments to copyright law in the pipeline in Taiwan, authorities launced an investigation into the supply of Unblock Tech’s devices in the country.

    Several Operations Over Several Months

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ended in August 2021, and over the next few months, Taiwan authorities conducted several operations to disrupt the supply of Unblock Tech devices. Somewhat unusually, these operations weren’t mentioned in Hollywood’s reports to the U.S. Government.

    In a report dated October 2022, in a section dedicated to Taiwan, the MPA describes Unblock Tech in detail, noting that its ‘Ubox’ devices present an “enormous piracy and enforcement” challenge. An IIPA report dated January 2023 goes into detail in other ways but makes no mention of arrests in Taiwan.

    A surprise announcement published yesterday by the New Taipei District Prosecutor’s Office reveals that the suspected head of Unblock Tech operations in Taiwan has now been indicted for mass copyright infringement offenses.

    Prosecutors say that the man (identified only by the surname ‘Huang’) worked with partners in mainland China to illegally obtain copyrighted movie and TV content (some of it relating to the Olympics) from 72 legal companies, before illegally distributing streams via servers “located overseas” to Ubox device users

    So that it could further investigate around 57 websites/IP addresses, Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice sought help from the US Department Of Justice, a logical step according to investigation reports. The network resources supporting mass piracy in Taiwan and encouraging criticism from U.S. rightsholders, had been linked right back to companies in the United States itself.

    Operation Clean Band 2

    According to documents seen by TorrentFreak, the investigation was launched following complaints from the Satellite Television Broadcasting Association (China) and Japan-based anti-piracy group CODA (Content Overseas Distribution Association). It began in August 2021 and continued until at least December 2021.

    Led by Taiwan’s CIB Telecommunications Investigation Corps with support from two criminal investigation units and police departments, raids were carried out in August, September and November 2021 across 26 locations, including Taipei City, New Taipei City, Taoyuan City, Taichung City, Changhua County, Tainan City, and Kinmen County. Overall, 26 locations were targeted.

    The indicted suspect identified as ‘Huang’ is in his mid-thirties. He was among 11 others arrested in 2021, including two men of broadly the same age working at the same company.

    Seven men and one woman, all aged between 30 and 45, were arrested under suspicion of distribution offenses. Two other men, aged between 25 and 40, were arrested under suspicion of operating servers.


    Technical analysis of Ubox devices was guided by Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) with help from local internet service providers. Copied content was reportedly relayed by servers located in New Taipei City and Changhua, apparently with support from unnamed internet service providers.

    Defendant ‘Huang’ is suspected of setting up a company for the purpose of obtaining official WiFi certification from the NCC and then selling the pirate boxes as legal devices in Taiwan. Employees of Huang’s company allegedly signed up to official streaming services so that the content could be copied and restreamed to Ubox devices.

    The decision to name the pirate device company Unblocktech Taiwan Co., Ltd hardly suggests an operation in stealth mode. Neither does the registration of an ‘Unblock’ trademark as recently as last April.

    Domains: Seized, or Something Else?

    As previously mentioned, these events do not feature in recent rightsholder reports to the U.S. government. The only hint can be found in an MPA report to the USTR in 2022 which contains the following statement;

    In 2021, the New Taipei District Court ordered a domain registrar outside Taiwan to seize piracy domains related to Unblock Tech through a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) and instructed the local internet administrator (TWNIC) to disable the access of local users to the piracy domains through local ISP networks

    The reference above to a “domain registrar outside Taiwan” seems almost intentionally vague. The statement that the New Taipei District Court “ordered” a domain registrar to seize piracy domains isn’t the same as a domain registrar actually seizing domains either.

    History isn’t always an accurate predictor of the future, but when domains are seized, it’s unlike the MPA not to tell it how it is. The only domain we could find being celebrated by rightsholders as inaccessible is ub1234.com. The registrar is GoDaddy, and as this image from last year shows, it certainly looks inaccessible.

    However, ub1234.com and other key domains used by Unblock Tech seem intact and show no signs of seizure, despite having a registrar or registry in the United States.

    Domains Blocked By Taiwan

    What actually happened with ub1234.com is that authorities in Taiwan obtained permission from the court to have the domain blocked locally by interfering with the domain’s DNS entries.

    Several other Unblock Tech domains also received the same treatment. According to local media reports, these domains were the first to be blocked after Taiwan established a brand new specialist cybercrime department – the Supervisory Center for Investigating and Prosecuting Information and Communications Crimes

    The technical aspects of the blocking process make for interesting reading but even if domains had been seized, Unblock Tech appears to have many more domains on standby.

  • padmanpadman Moderator

    U.S. Department of Justice

    The MPA’s report to the USTR mentions Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) but only in respect of cooperation on domain names.

    According to information reviewed by TorrentFreak, Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice sought cooperation from the U.S. Department of Justice because the IP addresses, websites and/or servers identified in the raid (around 57 in total), traced back to two United States companies.

    From the information at hand, Cloudflare and FDCServers were asked to hand over the details of the people behind the resources, plus their billing records. Whether they had anything useful to surrender is unclear but since this is a criminal investigation, it’s possible the DoJ may have demanded more than the basics.

    Nevertheless, it still presents an awkward image of criticizing Taiwan for not doing enough to combat piracy and then have the crumbs lead right back to home turf. Right now, Unblock Tech’s main domain is fully operational…from a Cloudflare IP address.

  • The main question is how would this impact overseas users. And if existing unblocktech turn into bricks

  • I'm still waiting for the fact of true or false on the diehard Unblock.

  • HmmHmm
    edited April 2023

    Streaming services for Unblock remain active (according to my sources) at the time of this writing!

    In fact, when Napper was down (so was EVPAD) for CNY, only Unblock was working.

    Only time will tell what, if any, impact this will have in the long-run.

  • Not going to happen. Why? You can still use it as an Android TV box. Install Kodi, run and stream YouTube, play movies (that you download/torrent), etc. The "extra"cost we're paying for is for the streaming service(s) they provide. The "vanilla" boxes themselves cost less than $70 USD.

  • HmmHmm
    edited May 2023

    There seems to be no change in the EVPAD, Ubox, and SuperBox realms. Ubox is still working and no new issues with their IPTV channels. In fact, there are new versions of all three boxes for 2023.

    Show me another IPTV competitor that includes extensive Asian and USA channels, VOD, no bandwidth caps, and subs except for a one-time fee.

  • Still working Oct 2023. I even got a software update from store.

  • Choose to a year now service still running so guess its ok

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