Feeds

EC sends antitrust complaint to smart chip cartel suspects

Fireside chat fails to satisfy

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

With settlement talks stalled, the European Commission has launched a formal investigation into whether suppliers of cryptographic chips conspired to fix prices across Europe. The commission announced today that it had sent out a warning to several smart card chip suppliers that it was investigating allegations that they had participated in a cartel.

It did not name the suppliers who had received statements of objections. Cartel activity is a breach of EU antitrust rules.

The original investigation started back in 2009, with raids on various smart card and SIM providers accused of operating an illegal cartel. Since then, the parties involved have tried to resolve things with "settlement talks", but those are stalled, so the EC has kicked off a proper investigation.

"The essence of settlement is to benefit from a quicker, more efficient procedure, and to reach a common understanding on the existence and characteristics of a cartel," says the explanatory note from the European Commission. "If that is not possible, the Commission will not hesitate to revert to the normal procedure and to pursue the suspected infringement", which is what it will now do.

Secure elements are used in SIM chips as well as credit cards and anywhere else an authenticated ID is needed, but the nature of the product dictates that suppliers be trusted by customers so resolves down to a small number of large-volume players, further reduced by consolidation.

The barriers to entry are extremely high - a new supplier will have to engender trust as well as having the necessary technical know-how, so a handful of well-known suppliers dominate the market.

But the EC will want to establish if those suppliers colluded to fix prices across Europe, and had hoped to clear that up with a friendly chat.

Such chats are well defined, and offer companies found to be operating a cartel a 10 per cent discount on the resulting fine, but with a formal investigation underway, anyone found guilty will be fined in full. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.