Spying bookmakers drive punters to VPNs
November 7, 2016
More and more punters are using VPNs amid fears that bookmakers are using intrusive measures to spy on account holders and may be breaking data protection legislation.
I recently wrote about the mistrust in the matched betting community about bookmakers’ using IE Snare, spyware developed by US-based Iovation to help counter fraudulent activity on gambling websites. The Times has stirred things up this week in a report accusing Paddy Power Betfair of breaking data protection laws through the use of Iovation’s tracking cookie.
The report claims Paddy Power Betfair is downloading the software onto mobile phones without the user’s knowledge and gathering information to build a profile about the customer. A second report in The Times suggests the bookmaker could be breaching privacy laws by using social media and Google Street View to further intrude into customer’s lives.
Paddy Power Betfair has rejected the allegations and claims that the checks are carried out in compliance with the Gambling Commission’s Know Your Customer regulations.
While The Times’s reports will give national exposure to these issues, the growing concern about bookmaker profiling is driving punters towards VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) in order to help protect their identity.
What is a VPN and why is it needed for betting?
A VPN is an easy to use piece of software that can be installed on almost any computer or mobile phone.
It helps protect your privacy by allowing you to use a different IP address to the one you have at home on your router. It’s your ‘normal’ IP address that websites, including betting sites, use to identify you and your activities on the internet.
You can use a VPN to protect your location from bookmakers. So if someone else at your address wishes to open an account they won’t suffer some of the restrictions placed on such accounts. If your account has previously been restricted and you want to open a new one, the bookmaker won’t be able to link the accounts from your IP address.
The cost of VPNs is coming down as usage increase and you can find one from about £5 per month, cheaper if you pay annually in advance. They are easy to install on computers, mobiles and tablets and one trick used by many who are mentioned above is to use one set of accounts on computer and using their mobile or tablet for another set.
Does a VPN cover your tracks
Not on its own, but a VPN is a big help. Bookmakers may have other clues about your identity such as address, bank details and other forms of identification you may have provided.
You’ll need to take care that information you provide cannot be linked to another account and then there is the IE Snare cookie. This spyware can identify your device regardless of the IP address you are using so it can link your computer and mobile to your betting account.
There are measures you can take to find out if IE Snare has downloaded to your computer and this article explains how to get rid of it.