Data Protection Authorities Investigate Online Bookmakers Over Iovation Anti-Fraud Software

In iGaming by on April 12, 2017



One certain type of gambling software that is regularly being used by online bookmakers around the globe is being investigated by the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). ICO oversees data protection in the country and has raised concerns regarding this software. It has been discovered that this particular piece of software secretly downloads itself onto a customer’s hard drive. This happens when players use certain betting services over the internet.

Iesnare – Severe Breach of Privacy and a “Legit” Trojan Tracker

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), earlier this week, some gamblers have expressed their concerns regarding the issue. These gamblers believe that the digital program, which is known as ‘Iesnare,’ is a type of spyware. They believe that this software tracks the betting information of players from the background when they place wagers online. It has also been speculated that the piece software tracks the winning histories of players; with the possibility of freezing the accounts of successful gamblers. This could be a trick that gaming operators use to dodge paying their winning players.

Desperate Attempts to Get Things Straight

Bookies are adamant that the software is used purely for monitoring purposes. They are also convinced that they are in fact helping the government. They have claimed that it is a tool that serves no other purpose than to monitor for fraud and money laundering activities. Therefore, use of the software actually helps the online operators fulfil their legal and regulatory obligations. They further went on to state that the software complies with the data protection guidelines for the UK and Ireland.

Numerous betting forums have documented the increasing concerns among players regarding the Iesnare. Rumours are rife with speculations that the bookies using the system are up to no good. The forums suggested that the spyware is being used for nefarious purposes by several gambling operators. The contributors of the betting forums also believe that the software is being abused by operators. These are exactly the reasons why the ICO wants to get to the bottom of this. ICO has said that they would like to determine the true purpose of the software and more importantly, the details of how it works.

Iesnare Was Used to Block Out Successful Players?

Garreth Cameron, the Strategic Liasion Group manager of the ICO, said that they want to make sure that gambling companies that using the software are dealing with the matter appropriately. They also want to ensure that gambling companies are being transparent about the program to their customers. According to the ICO, operators are expected to make the effort and take the time to inform their customers about the nature of this software before accessing any of their personal data.

He said, “Our enquiries will focus on looking at whether the companies in question have been very clear, very transparent about their use of these technologies.”

Brian Chappell, the person behind the Justice for Punters website, is also convinced that the bookmakers are up to no good. Chappell is a strong advocate for protection of the rights of the players. He said that he had conducted an experiment to investigate the software on his own.

He said, “I actually cleaned my hard drive on my laptop and I intentionally went on the Skybet website before I went on any other internet site and within two seconds, Iesnare… now called Iovation… they keep changing the name… and there it was.”

He also pointed out that the software identifies players whose accounts have been closed down using their IP addresses. When they try to open a new account the program interrupts the process. This happens even if the player uses a new name and new set of details.

He said, “If you open an account with a company and they restrict your account, another thing you might like to try is that you open another account with them using another name. Because it’s the same IP address you’re using, it will identify you as a person who’s had an account closed down.”

Iovation was Linked to the Infamous UltimateBet

The US cyber security company that develops and distributes the controversial Iensnare is called Iovation Inc. It is a well- known provider of software for the gambling industry. However, the company itself has had a chequered history since being founded in 2004. In 2016, they made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The company had managed to obtain a Nevada gaming license despite its links to the disgraced online poker site,

Employees of UltimateBet were able to rob US poker players out of an estimated USD 20 million between 2004 and 2008. This was achieved using what was described as ‘God Mode’ within their software. The mode when activated would allow the employees to see the opponent’s hold cards. The provider of the software was none other than Iovation. The founder of the company and CEO, Greg Pierson, was also the CEO and one of the co- founders of UltimateBet.

Iovation has gone on record to state to the BBC that they have no access to player information. According to them, this includes the history of the player’s winnings and losses. They have also made claims that the company does not have information for any specific betting details of their players either.

“Every service contract signed by an Iovation customer requires that they comply with respective data privacy laws, which includes the appropriate consent and notice provisions,” it added.