Feeds

EC sends antitrust complaint to smart chip cartel suspects

Fireside chat fails to satisfy

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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. ®

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.