Online Bookmakers Investigated by Data Protection Authorities Over Iovation Anti-fraud Software

Posted on: April 6, 2017, 06:00h. 

Last updated on: April 9, 2017, 12:25h.

Software employed by online bookmakers that secretly downloads itself onto a customer’s hard drive is currently under investigation by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which oversees data protection in the country.

Controversy over iensnare software used by online bookies
Iovation’s iesnare software automatically downloads onto a bettor’s computer or mobile device. Bookies say its used for anti-fraud and and customer verification, but some gamblers think it has more sinister applications. (Image: Pokerfuse)

According to the BBC this week, some gamblers believe that the software, known as iesnare, is spyware that could be used to track betting information and the winning histories of players, possibly with a view of freezing the accounts of successful gamblers.

Bookies say that the software has no purpose other than to monitor for fraud and money-laundering, and it helps them fulfill their legal and regulatory obligations. They also claim it complies with data protection guidelines in the UK and Ireland.

Is There Truth in the Rumors?

But rumors have swirled on betting forums for a couple of years now of the possibility that the software may be being abused by operators. This is exactly what the ICO wants to determine, said the body’s Strategic Liaison Group Manager, Garreth Cameron.

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

Meanwhile, Brian Chappell, who runs the crusading bettors’ rights website Justice for Punters is convinced the bookies are up to no good.

“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 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,” he said. “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’s Checkered History

Iovation, is in fact, the name of the US cyber-security company that developed and distributes iensnare, and is a well-known provider of software for the gambling industry.

However, it does have a past. Last year, it hit the headlines for controversially receiving a Nevada gaming license despite its links to the disgraced online poker site

Employees of UltimateBet fleeced US poker players out of an estimated $20 million between 2004 and 2008, using the so-called “God Mode,” a feature built into its software that allowed the user to see opponents’ hole cards.

Iovation told the BBC it had “no access to information, such as the winning and losing history of players, nor do we have access to specific betting details.

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