Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Britain “not in a position” to prevent Olympics match fixing

Experts have expressed their concerns that match fixing and sports fraud will pose a serious threat to the London Olympics, which are due to start this Friday in the British capital, since gambling businesses based offshore cannot be obliged to share information with sporting bodies, the UK Gambling Commission or the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG).

Mike Morgan, of Squire Sanders, explains “the UK Government is not in a position to compel operators that fall outside of its jurisdiction to share information”, and the Government “can scarcely be blamed for the activities of offshore operators and bookmakers that fall outside of its jurisdiction”. He points out “more has been done to combat the specter of sporting fraud in preparation of these Olympic Games than any other”.

John Cloke, an Associate at DLA Piper in London, does foresee issues since “those who would seek to manipulate events are more likely to place their bets with bookmakers in a less well-regulated market.” London-based Andrew Danson, of K&L Gates, also stresses that “no [UK] legislation could obtain information from black market operators”.

The industry, meanwhile, has taken its own measures. Because of the “limited jurisdictional reach of the UK parliament”, as Cloke calls it, a number of betting companies issued a statement of intent on 26 June, pledging to report all unusual betting patterns to the Gambling Commission, to not knowingly take bets from anyone accredited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to offer a 24-hour reporting service, and suspend any bets if ordered to do so by the Gambling Commission.  

No doping test for corruption
Morgan called the statement “a commendable initiative” and thinks it “may well act as a deterrent from any individuals who seek to defraud the betting markets by manipulating a sporting event”. However, he stresses “that not all acts of sporting fraud are intended to defraud the betting markets. The aim may simply be to ensure a higher standing for a team or an individual. In such event, betting patterns are unlikely to reveal any suspicious activity.” Danson agrees: “Unfortunately, there is no doping test for corruption.”

Last January, it was announced that the IOC, the Gambling Commission, the Metropolitan Police, the UK Border Agency and a number of gambling operators will meet on a daily basis during the Games, to detect suspicious betting patterns, and to evaluate whether any athletes are intentionally underperforming for personal gain.

Michiel Willems © 2012 CP Publishing Ltd. Picture:

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Experts not impressed by EU’s single patent system

Leaders of the European Union agreed on 29 June to create a single EU Patent System and to establish a European patent court, which will be headquartered in Paris with two specialised divisions in London and Munich. Most industry experts, however, have expressed their disappointment and concern about the deal.

Although Hiroshi Sheraton, of McDermott Will & Emery in London, called the agreement “a major breakthrough, after over 40 years of failed negotiations and discussions”, Mark Owen, of Harbottle, classified the document as “a huge piece of Euro-fudge. A solution which no-one can possibly think is perfect, or even nearly good enough.” 

James Boon, of Bristows, stressed “it is possible that in practice the new regime will encourage businesses to move out of Europe.”
“Having an EU wide trade mark and not having an EU wide patent is a weird position under EU intellectual property law, but whether creating one is a positive move, I don't know,” said Vanessa Barnett, Partner at Charles Russell in London.
The new European patent system should make it “cheaper” to get patent protection with unitary effect in most EU Member States and “the single court will allow disputes to be resolved once and for all for the entire continent, except Spain and Italy,” said Sheraton. “It will avoid complex, expensive and potentially conflicting multi-national litigation across different EU states.”
However, Boon said about the cost saving argument it is “likely to hold true for companies wishing to apply for a patent in a large number of states, but the new unitary patent may be no cheaper than applying for a European Patent and designating two or three key territories.” Owen went even further and called the “current solution a recipe for confusion and expense, precisely the two things the whole exercise was supposed to avoid.”

Owen fears “the EU patent will be too fragmented from the very start. The trouble is that engagement with the issue by politicians, national IP offices and the relevant professions has all come too late, and as a result reason and sense have been sacrificed.” Barnett does not think “an EU patent court would have sufficient depth of specialist judges or technical expertise resources to be able to deal with the range and volume of patent claims.” 

The European Parliament is expected to vote in the next few months on the agreement of the Council of Ministers.

Michiel Willems © 2012 CP Publishing Ltd. Picture: / /

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Interview: Jake Berry MP

Michiel Willems spoke to Jake Berry, Member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen, and a former City solicitor, on the government’s role in developing and regulating the mobile phone industry, broadband issues and the future of the UK’s online infrastructure.

Jake Berry MP
How do you see the future of the mobile phone in the UK?
Already great strides have been made with the availability of many ‘apps’ giving mobile phones the flexibility of being more than just a communication tool. Indeed, one of the newer apps is to summon a taxi and have it arrive within minutes that takes you to the destination you have programmed and finally charges the cost to a credit/debit card and emails the receipt to the passenger.

What should happen to give mobile payments a breakthrough with the mass audience?
It is down to the banks and retailers to make a breakthrough with the mass audience. Without the participation of the majority of retailers and all banks it would not be viable. Costs and security issues would also have to be taken into account. As banks, retailers, phone manufacturers and many others are involved, there needs to be a common set of protocols and standards.

Do you think the current government is giving the telecoms industry the space to grow and develop?Yes, the British Government is undertaking a wide-scale review of the regulatory framework supporting the communications sector. The aim is to strip away unnecessary red tape and remove barriers to growth. The wider public interest will underpin the way we address these issues.

Do you think the Government should regulate the mobile industry more?
The Government is committed to the principle of independent regulation and will ensure that Ofcom has the right powers and duties to work in a way that gives businesses confidence in the regulatory system. It is crucial that the Government implements a deregulated framework suitable for the digital age and properly oriented towards growth is required in order to take account of the rapid pace of change in new communications technologies in the last few years.

How do you see the future of the internet?
Many of the most dynamic developments in broadband are in wireless devices and the development of very high data rates in mobility. Whether in the home or outside, consumers are enjoying services and content over devices which connect wirelessly.

Could give an example?
Grant Shapps MP, Minster for Housing, is calling on every social landlord to look long and hard at how they can help their tenants get online, from offering networks of public internet cafes to providing the technology to log on at home. The Minster for Housing said internet connectivity is considered by many to be the fourth essential utility, and should be a necessity, not a luxury. The Government is committed to helping demolish the unacceptable digital divide that is blocking social mobility for millions of council tenants.

Will the UK infrastructure be able to cope with increasing data demands?
The current Mobile networks were engineered to support a real-time voice service which supported roaming between cells. Today, devices such as Apple’s iPhone and iPad make very different demands on the network infrastructure, requiring operators to meet customer expectations of mobility, but with rapidly growing demands for data downloads.
Broadband infrastructure investment is vital in supporting the overall growth agenda. Rural and remote areas of the country should benefit from this infrastructure upgrade at the same time as more populated areas, ensuring that an acceptable level of broadband is delivered to those parts of the country that are currently excluded. Infrastructure sharing and new overhead deployment can play an important role in delivering superfast broadband that meets increasing data demands.

Do you embrace the concept of net neutrality?
Yes. The Internet has brought huge economic and social benefits across the world because of its openness and that must continue. Technology neutrality will be an essential criterion, as we believe a mix of technologies will be needed. It will be important that Government maintains its commitment to technology-neutral solutions for broadband.

Thank you for your time.

Jake Berry - Member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen
House of Commons
Twitter @jakeberryMP

Michiel Willems © 2012 CP Publishing Ltd. Pictures: /

Friday, 6 July 2012

Snooping, sharing and shifting

Many offices around the world sent their employees an urgent message on 6 June: ‘Please change your LinkedIn password immediately’, as the news spread that millions of accounts of the professional networking website had been hacked. 

Nearly 6.5 million LinkedIn passwords ended up in the wrong hands and were posted on an online forum by cybercriminals. And it was not only LinkedIn that was a victim of a the latest data security breach; the online dating website eHarmoney also admitted that nearly 1.5 million of its passwords had been stolen and music website also suffered a major password leak. 

Although the three companies invalidated the embezzled passwords and they were quick to send out instructions to their affected customers telling them how to reset their accounts, the damage had been done. Analysts say it is not unlikely that criminals have scrutinised and copied millions of accounts and will try the same passwords – in combination with the corresponding usernames, usually email addresses – on other popular websites, such as Gmail, Hotmail, Twitter and Facebook. After all, many people use the same email address and password for a range of websites.

Who is snooping?
Obviously, it was not LinkedIn’s best month since the company launched 10 years ago. And the password leak sent shudders through the industry: if this can happen to such a big and popular website, who says it won’t happen to smaller, less well-protected players?

Experts, meanwhile, are convinced the internet is increasingly becoming a dangerous data jungle. Data is being copied, transmitted and passed on to advertisers, credit card details are being sold, twitter, hotmail and gmail accounts used to send round viruses and spam, while login details are publicly available online. 

Without trying to scare away the average internet user, many fraud experts do admit protecting your login details and other sensitive data has become more difficult than ever before in the history of the internet. The number of cyberattacks, tens of thousands each single day, are quickly increasing and, worryingly, consumers are mostly not even aware an attack has taken place or data has been stolen or shared without their consent. Mass hackings like the users of LinkedIn and eHarmony experienced at the beginning of June are rare and do make headlines, but many industry experts warn about all those smaller attacks you never hear about. Who is snooping, sharing and shifting is increasingly becoming one big blur. Keeping the same password for months on end has become a convenience one cannot longer afford.

Michiel Willems © 2012 CP Publishing Ltd. Picture: / Original Artist 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Payment integration under pressure as Europe battles with Eurocrisis

LONDON - The financial crisis and the uncertainty about the future of the Euro put progress of ambitious European payment integration plans, such as the Single European Payments Area (SEPA), increasingly under pressure. 

"The Spanish bail out and discussions about deeper Eurozone integration may slow down SEPA," said Michael McKee, Partner at DLA Piper in London, while Mark Taylor, Partner with Hogan Lovells, thinks that “the focus and priority of regulators and governments is inevitably drawn elsewhere. There is a risk that this may lead to a slower rate of progress.”

According to Nathalie Moreno, of Speechly Bircham, “the impacts of increased lending and bailouts to keep the Euro afloat will surely affect the ability to make a certain decision on the future of SEPA”.
To make SEPA a success “we surely would need to ensure we have a Euro”, said Gareth Lodge, a Consultant at Celent. McKee agrees with Lodge: “There is no question that the SEPA project is fundamentally tied up in the future of the euro itself."

The crucial role that banks play in the development of SEPA raises concerns since “those banks who have heard of SEPA, and an alarming number still have not, are placing big bets as a way of capitalising on their strengths and their competitors weaknesses. Whilst others are simply trying to survive the month”, said Lodge. 

Euro in jeopardy?
Regarding the EU Green Paper, published in February and calling for an integrated market for card, internet and mobile payments, Moreno believes that “as the markets fragment more it is difficult for many to reconcile a unified approach to enable efficient cross border payments”.
“SEPA is more and more political”, said McKee. That is “why the Green Paper raises issues about mandatory completion times and about SEPA governance; a coded threat that the Commission, European Central Bank and Member States want to wrest more control of the [SEPA] project from the banking industry." Moreno agrees with McKee: “There is a worry that regulatory intervention could hamper the banking sector’s competitiveness in the global marketplace and also lead to the lack of development and innovation in this space.”   

There are also concerns whether the SEPA migration deadline of February 2014 is still realistic: “There will be more than a handful of banks and corporates who will miss the deadline. The questions then are how many, by how much and how long are they given,” said Lodge.

Michiel Willems © 2012 CP Publishing Ltd. Picture: /