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Complaint filed against unlawful payment blocking scheme in Norway

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) is seeking for an investigation to be conducted in Norway, “for serious breaches of the privacy of Norwegian citizens when conducting online payments.”

The EGBA, who represent Europe’s leading online gambling operators, has asked the Norwegian Data Protection Inspectorate (DPI) to investigate a payment blocking scheme, established in 2010 by the Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA).

Since its inception, the scheme prohibits businesses from carrying out payments of bets and prizes in online gambling services, which do not have a licence in Norway.

An investigation request follows a sudden imposition placed on Norwegian banks to block transactions to 7 identified account numbers, which the EGBA says was carried out following NGA analysis deeming the payment blocking regulation to be ineffective.

According to the EGBA, privacy protection rules of Norwegian citizens, including those that do not have any financial relation with online gambling service providers, were breached by the manner in which the NGA obtained the account information.

It details a belief that the information is obtained from the Foreign Exchange Register, “to which the NGA has no right to access according to Norwegian law.”

Stating “to obtain the account information the NGA would have scanned and obtained login data of payment details belonging to Norwegians citizens that may or may not be not related to online gambling services – and this contravenes Norwegian citizens’ privacy rights as laid down by the European Convention of Human Rights.”

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, comments: “Online data protection and the right to privacy are a major concern to all Norwegian and European citizens and rightly so. As more and more of our information goes online, we must be able to trust that our online data is protected.

“The data protection rules for online gambling companies are very stringent, and these companies are rightly expected and forced to comply with those rules – but the law requires the same from public authorities like the NGA.

“In this case we believe the NGA has made a clear breach of data protection rules which the Norwegian DPI should investigate and take appropriate action if necessary.

Haijer added: “The underlying issue is that the current Norwegian online gambling law does not fit with today’s digital reality.

“Rather than focusing on keeping the Monopoly model in place with increasingly repressive but ineffective enforcement measures, the regulation should focus on the actual needs of Norwegian consumers and provide a safe and competitive offer which enables consumers to play online in a secure and highly regulated environment based on Norwegian law.”

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