We've been reporting about the ongoing controversies surrounding Kodi, a program that is supposed to be a gateway to a wide variety of unlimited streaming content.
Kodi is an open source program that aggregates media including movies, music and photos from multiple online or local sources - think of it as a highly customizable media manager/player.
Kodi in itself is perfectly legal but just like any capable streaming platform, there is a large number of legitimate and official add-ons available for Kodi. However, due to its open source and customizable nature, add-ons or plugins from third-party sources (called repositories) can also be installed.
These third-party add-ons can then be used for watching streams of movies, TV shows, pay-per-view sports events, and music provided by questionable sources.
We warned you about the security and privacy risks of these third-party add-ons. Not only are they potential sources of copyright infringements, they can also be used to obtain records of IP addresses accessing illegal content. These records can then be used for evidence if the need for legal action arises.
Now, a recent closure of a popular Kodi add-on service is bringing these security and privacy concerns to the forefront.
Three domains previously owned by TVAddons, a third-party Kodi add-on site, were recently transferred to a Canadian law firm.
TVAddons was one of the most popular sources for add-ons that can be used for accessing copyrighted streams of movies, TV shows, and sporting events. It was so popular that it reportedly had 40 million unique users connect to its servers in March.
The service was shut down last month after the people who operated it were sued in a federal court in Texas for copyright infringement.
Now that the TVAddon domains were unexpectedly transferred to a Canadian law firm, even Kodi's creators are worried about the security implications of this development.
According to Kodi Project Manager Nathan Betzen, anyone who took control of these domains and services can potentially do whatever they wanted to TVAddons users, including logging their IP addresses and spying on their activities.
“If some malware author wanted, he could easily install a watcher that reports back the user’s IP address and everything they were doing in Kodi. If the law firm is actually an anti-piracy group, that seems like the likeliest thing I can think of,” Betzen told Torrent Freak.
Basically, now that a law firm controls these sites, it can potentially update its add-ons and use them as "honey pots" for collecting information about its users.
Although this is the worst case scenario, since there are no privacy protections in place for current and even former TVAddons users, it is recommended that all traces of the service, including add-ons, plugins and repositories, are deleted from your streaming device.
This also illustrates the risks of not knowing where third-party and unofficial Kodi add-ons and updates are coming from.
Kodi boxes with preloaded piracy add-ons have been in hot water these past few months due to lawsuits filed against vendors of such gadgets. These boxes were even banned by online vendors like Amazon and eBay.
If you're looking for ways to stream legal content, Kodi itself has its own official add-on site. You can also check our guide for the best streaming players you can get right now.