US government shuts down Android piracy sites

The United States government has put its big foot down on three websites that it claims offered illegal downloads of Android-based apps. The websites in question, applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com, have all been shut down by the Department of Justice.

In a press release on the DOJ website, the government said that FBI agents, " ... downloaded thousands of copies" of Android apps from those three websites. It added that the apps were made available " ... without permission from the software developers who would otherwise sell copies of the apps on legitimate online markets for a fee."

Most of the servers for all three sites were located outside the US, but the DOJ said it worked with the governments in those countries to seize the evidence found on those servers. It added, "Nine search warrants were also executed in six different districts across the country today as part of the operation."

This is the first time that the US government has shut down websites that it claims provided downloads of pirated software made specifically for smartphones. Of course, getting Android apps via Google's official store, Google Play, can also be risky. Last month, the company removed an app from the store after it was revealed to be a malware application, but this is the exception, not the rule.

Source: DOJ website
Law Enforcement image via Shuttlestock

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31 Comments

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snorge said,
I admit I've been to a few sites like these but haven't heard of the ones they busted.

Just find yourself a fine torrent site and download the apps there... this isnt stopping piracy at all.
They'll just move to non-US operated TLD's... and they're done.

my phone makes phone calls ..good enough for me.
the explosion of apps and games on phones is dumb.
i tried out some games etc and created a hack for my phone (non android)
and never bothered again.. the pre-installed small handful of tools
are more than enough, like a calc and a notepad and not much else

overrated useless crap

I am Not PCyr said,
my phone makes phone calls ..good enough for me.
the explosion of apps and games on phones is dumb.
i tried out some games etc and created a hack for my phone (non android)
and never bothered again.. the pre-installed small handful of tools
are more than enough, like a calc and a notepad and not much else

overrated useless crap

Thank you Fred Flintstone.

smooth3006 said,
Mobilism FTW!

+1

But honestly, I may have tried some applications but I ended up buying them. Phone piracy is too cheap not to buy. But when I saw the headline I was surprised not to see this site in the list.

Klownicle said,

+1

But honestly, I may have tried some applications but I ended up buying them. Phone piracy is too cheap not to buy. But when I saw the headline I was surprised not to see this site in the list.

i always test before i buy.

I foresee the beginning of a dangerous acceleration in website seizures, primarily forced through by the US government. Not sure this is going to have a happy ending.

There are only so many paths available.

Stronger DRM seems to annoy everyone.
Gov't takedowns seem to annoy everyone.
Low app prices clearly aren't preventing anything.
100% free and open software is *never going to happen*, so that's right out.

Takedowns are less 'invasive' than DRM. Either governments can do it or companies can be granted the power. You pick which is less long-term scary.

PurpleHaze420 said,
I foresee the beginning of a dangerous acceleration in website seizures, primarily forced through by the US government. Not sure this is going to have a happy ending.

Then they shouldnt use .net, .org, .com, .us or .edu domains! The US gov does not seize foreign TLDs.

Shadowzz said,

Then they shouldnt use .net, .org, .com, .us or .edu domains! The US gov does not seize foreign TLDs.
How cute I won't spoil your fantasy world. Have a great day!!

I am glad someone took them down. for some reason pirating for Android is far more dangerous than for Windows or Mac as a lot of the APK files served up on these sites have been modified to contain Malware and SMS jackers.

littleneutrino said,
I am glad someone took them down. for some reason pirating for Android is far more dangerous than for Windows or Mac as a lot of the APK files served up on these sites have been modified to contain Malware and SMS jackers.
Not that I support it or anything.. but two things..

If you are downloading from shady sites, you should have an antivirus installed on your Android device.
Additionally, if you are using these sites, don't be the first to download, give it a week or so, let people review it, post their comments, etc.

Ryoken said,
Not that I support it or anything.. but two things.. ....
.

Are you providing advice on how to get these apps?
Best advice, open up the sphincter and give the poor guys who made the apps the small few $$ they deserve by buying the apps legitimately.

DukeWars said,

Are you providing advice on how to get these apps?
Best advice, open up the sphincter and give the poor guys who made the apps the small few $$ they deserve by buying the apps legitimately.


Or better yet, the rich should buy copies of paid apps and ship a legit copy of it to someone who cannot afford to buy it.

DukeWars said,

Are you providing advice on how to get these apps?
Best advice, open up the sphincter and give the poor guys who made the apps the small few $$ they deserve by buying the apps legitimately.


Theres so much junk out there that shouldnt cost money. besides back when i still ued android (half a year ago or so) allot of paid apps had NO trial or free version.
UP YOURS i'm not going to waste money on an App i have no chance of trying.

Shadowzz said,

Theres so much junk out there that shouldnt cost money. besides back when i still ued android (half a year ago or so) allot of paid apps had NO trial or free version.
UP YOURS i'm not going to waste money on an App i have no chance of trying.
6 months ago most apps didn't have a free version? Are you serious or just trolling for Apple?

sanke1 said,
Good news. Pirating apps on Android platform is way too easy, thanks to Google.

Exactly.. If Google was interested in developing a robust platform that was not so easy to compromise (They really just want a platform for more Ads). Tax payers would not have to fund such efforts to pick up the slack and do this type of work! We don't see this problem with iOS or Windows Phone! at least not at this scale!
Android is costing every one of us, even if we don't use Android. I would rather the $$ be spent on Health, science, education or other cool stuff.

DukeWars said,

Exactly.. If Google was interested in developing a robust platform that was not so easy to compromise (They really just want a platform for more Ads). Tax payers would not have to fund such efforts to pick up the slack and do this type of work! We don't see this problem with iOS or Windows Phone! at least not at this scale!
Android is costing every one of us, even if we don't use Android. I would rather the $$ be spent on Health, science, education or other cool stuff.

Oh you poor little thing. As if America even cares about how much money it spends. It will just borrow more.

Your country is part of the reason people will save money wherever they can thanks to spending money the country doesn't have, and almost putting the world into the biggest financial crisis ever seen.

DukeWars said,

Exactly.. If Google was interested in developing a robust platform that was not so easy to compromise (They really just want a platform for more Ads). Tax payers would not have to fund such efforts to pick up the slack and do this type of work! We don't see this problem with iOS or Windows Phone! at least not at this scale!
Android is costing every one of us, even if we don't use Android. I would rather the $$ be spent on Health, science, education or other cool stuff.


IOS is too restrictive(the apps which are free are mostly junk). Winbloz phone isn't as bad yet.

DukeWars said,

Exactly.. If Google was interested in developing a robust platform that was not so easy to compromise (They really just want a platform for more Ads). Tax payers would not have to fund such efforts to pick up the slack and do this type of work! We don't see this problem with iOS or Windows Phone! at least not at this scale!
Android is costing every one of us, even if we don't use Android. I would rather the $$ be spent on Health, science, education or other cool stuff.

Surely you're just not awake yet. iOS doesn't have app piracy? Are you sure, or are you just a fanboy that needs to stop sheeping it up?

I'm not Apple fanboy but isn't the site for you guys call Cydia? Maybe I've got the name wrong though.