You may have heard that two hugely popular free streaming platforms, 123Movies.la and Cuevana, have been targeted and taken down by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE). This organization works to stop unauthorized and illegal movie/TV streaming sites.
As an experienced online privacy advocate, I want to provide some deeper insights on this event and what it means for you as a streamer. In this article, I‘ll cover:
- The background on 123Movies.la and Cuevana and why they got shut down
- What happens behind the scenes when sites like this get taken down
- How to protect your privacy if you were a user
- Legal alternatives for streaming safely
I know this can be confusing, so think of me as your streaming guide. I‘m here to walk you through what‘s going on in plain terms and steer you towards the best options.
123Movies.la – A Streaming Giant
Since 2017, 123Movies.la grew into one of the most visited sites worldwide for watching movies and TV without paying. According to piracy tracking firm MUSO, it had approximately 30 million active users per month. That‘s more than the population of countries like Australia, Saudi Arabia, or Malaysia.
With a catalog of over 12,000 movies and 7,000 shows, 123Movies offered pretty much any title you could want. Its library even included many current blockbusters and latest episodes only weeks after airing.
Of course, 123Movies.la did not actually have licenses for all this commercial content. Yet its smooth interface and vast selection made it wildly popular despite facilitating copyright infringement.
Who is ACE?
The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) represents a coalition of major movie studios, TV networks, music labels, publishers and more. With backing from the likes of Disney, Netflix, Paramount, and Warner Bros., ACE has the funding and legal muscle to pursue anti-piracy operations globally.
Tactics used by ACE and other anti-piracy groups include:
Sending DMCA takedown notices to hosting providers
Filing civil lawsuits against site operators
Pressuring ad networks and payment processors to cut ties
Seizing domains and shutting down server access
Lobbying governments for site blocking and other laws against piracy
ACE had already disrupted other major streaming platforms like Dragon Box, IMVDb, and Nites.tv.
Now the group has turned its focus on the gigantic 123Movies.la site.
The Shutdown of 123Movies.la
In early 2021, ACE moved to take down 123Movies.la, shutting the site down completely. If you visit 123movies.la now, this is all you‘ll see:
ACE was able to pull the plug on 123Movies.la by pressuring its web host to terminate service and seizing control of its domain name.
With 30 million monthly viewers affected, this represents a massive disruption. According to ACE:
“In January 2021, 123movies.la received over 30 million visits, making it one of the most popular illegal streaming websites worldwide. We are pleased to announce that the site has been taken down and the domain seized.”
Losing such a top destination is a major blow to the free streaming landscape. But the question remains if Cuevana could suffer the same fate.
Cuevana – Streaming for Latin America
Cuevana emerged around 2012 as a go-to site for Latin American audiences to access Hollywood movies and American TV for free. The Cuevana.tv domain began drawing users across Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and beyond.
Since then, Cuevana has expanded to over 30 different domain names. Collectively, these sites generate over 7 million visits per month, according to data from ACE.
Cuevana not only offers Hollywood blockbusters, but also:
- Telenovelas and Latin American series/movies
- U.S. shows like Walking Dead or Big Bang Theory with Spanish audio or subtitles
- Soccer matches and other Latin American sports programming
Altogether, Cuevana allows Spanish speakers free access to content that major media companies often geoblock or charge extra for in Latin America.
Cuevana Status After 123Movies.la Shutdown
Despite 123Movies.la getting shuttered, most Cuevana domains remain online at this time. The main Cuevana3.io site even appears unaffected.
ACE has stated Cuevana is a prime target however. Given its eventual takedown of 123Movies.la despite similar popularity, Cuevana‘s days could be numbered.
But for now, Cuevana remains a top destination for free Spanish-language streaming in Latin America and beyond.
What Happens Behind the Scenes After a Shut Down?
When major anti-piracy organizations like ACE take action against sites like 123Movies.la or Cuevana, the average user sees only the end result. But what goes on behind the scenes?
In some cases, the operators of taken-down sites have turned over significant user data to avoid further legal consequences. Streaming platforms hold potentially revealing information including:
- IP addresses of all site visitors
- Individual viewing and downloading history
- Email/password info for registered user accounts
- Payment details for any premium subscriptions
Authorities are interested in this data to pursue larger copyright infringement cases. However, site operators have also been known to sell user information to advertising networks or even random third-parties.
There are no guarantees around how responsible companies like 123Movies.la or Cuevana will be with your data if pressured by ACE. Many users blindly trust these platforms despite the risks.
How to Protect Your Privacy After Using Streaming Sites
If you‘ve used 123Movies.la, Cuevana, or other free streaming platforms in the past, here are some tips on protecting yourself:
Delete any accounts you had on the site – This removes billing details and other personal info they may have stored.
Contact your ISP to request they delete any IP logs linking you to the site. ISPs normally keep records for 6-12 months.
Use a VPN going forward – A VPN like IPVanish masks your IP address and encrypts traffic so you stay anonymous.
Run virus scans – Sketchy streaming sites often spread malware, so scan all your devices.
Avoid "free account generator" tools – Hackers stole and leaked data on 123Movies.la users who entered info into account gen tools.
Protecting your digital privacy is crucial in the streaming world. A quality VPN and antivirus software are key, especially with sites being shut down left and right.
Streaming portals like 123Movies.la and Cuevana became wildly popular over the years for offering seemingly endless content libraries for free. But are there downsides beyond just the looming threat of shutdowns?
Here‘s an overview of the key pros and cons to unauthorized streaming sites:
- Huge libraries of movies, shows, sports, etc.
- Convenient access on any device with a web browser
- Completely free, no subscriptions or fees
- New movies and episodes shortly after release
- Lower video quality and stability
- Malware risks from shady ads/popups
- No guarantee favorite show/movie will be available
- Little recourse for issues since unauthorized
- Privacy risks and threat of lawsuits/prosecution
- Sudden shutdowns disrupting access entirely
When you weigh it out, is saving a few bucks each month really worth the downsides of relying on unauthorized sites?
Safer Streaming with Legal Alternatives
Rather than risking malware infections or identity leaks, you may want to consider switching to legal streaming options. Services like:
- HBO Max
- Amazon Prime Video
- YouTube TV
offer the convenience of internet streaming on any device, but with less headaches and privacy risks. You pay a monthly fee, but gain:
- Smoother playback and higher video quality
- No dangerous ads or malware
- Confidence your favorite show will be available
- Ability to create user profiles and get recommendations
- Responsive customer support if issues arise
- Peace of mind from using legitimate services
The legal route may cost a bit more than "free" pirating, but provides a vastly better overall experience. See our guides on the best video streaming apps and live TV apps for suggested services.
Many also offer free trial periods so you can test them out risk-free. Ditching unauthorized sites for legal options can give you safer and higher quality streaming.
The takedown of streaming giants 123Movies.la and threats against Cuevana represent major strides for copyright holders in the fight against piracy. However, determined streamers will likely flock to the next free option that pops up, continuing the game of whack-a-mole.
My goal is to help steer you towards legal services so you can avoid the instability, privacy violations, malware threats, and low quality that often comes with unauthorized sites.
I know change can be hard, but investing in a few affordable subscriptions gives you way more bang for your buck these days. Take control of your streaming experience with services you can trust.
Stay tuned to my blog or newsletter for updates on the evolving streaming landscape. I‘m here to answer any questions and help you navigate things safely and legally.