Robbed on and off the pitch

Like much of the world, the Neotas team is eagerly awaiting the kick off to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Millions of fans from countries all around the world will be pouring into Russia to watch thirty-two teams battle it out for the most prized trophy in football.

Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat feeds will soon be filled with photos from fans showing off the view from their seats or how flash (or not) their hotel room is. Social media is a great tool to tell the world about the experiences we’re having. However, what are the consequences of all of this?

Posting that photo of you cheering on England from the stands to your public Instagram may seem innocuous but now anyone looking at your feed knows exactly where you are. And the fact that you’re not at home. They scroll further back through your feed and see that photo you posted of your new car in the driveway. Now they know where you are and what your house looks like. It is so easy to make ourselves vulnerable online without even realising.

It’s not just fans at risk. With public social media playing such an important part in branding, players fall into this trap all too often. Just a few days ago, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique had his house robbed whilst visiting his wife Shakira on tour in Germany. In January, West Brom player James McClean came home to a break-in after playing an evening fixture. Last year, John Terry and his wife were posting public photos of their holiday at the exact same time as their house was burgled.

Social media is an amazing thing, but we needlessly put ourselves at risk. Just a moment’s thought about who our audience actually is and what we’re showing them can make all the difference.

-Alex Penn

Penalties off the post: own goals on social media

In an increasing trend in British football, players are being reprimanded by the press and FA alike for historical activity on social media. In the most recent cases, the dubious online activity of a player has come to light only when they have made the news headlines for another reason – be it Shane Duffy dating Katie Price or Andre Gray’s first premier league goal – but has had a direct effect on their football career. 

Despite the player often representing a different club at the time of the faux-pas, it is the player’s current club who are punished as the player is banned by the FA and faces humiliation in the press. This may seem unfair, but an employer who does not properly vet their staff’s online footprint is leaving itself exposed to these kinds of scenarios.  

The issues are not always external either, as Joey Barton and Ryan Christie have shown; both players tweeted offensive comments about specific clubs, bringing embarrassment and anger from the clubs’ own supporters when they later signed the players. An online footprint check could have highlighted and removed these tweets before the signings were made public and saved the clubs from an unnecessary PR headache.  

The new generation of footballers are the first to have been active on social media from youth, so it will be no surprise if the trend of exposés continues to grow. Football clubs should realise that reaction to cases such as these is not enough, and proactive vetting of online footprints can prevent unnecessary publicity and FA sanctions.  

-Sam Haslam

A global problem: slavery in supply chains

Since before Neotas was Neotas, social responsibility has been central to our team. As such, we’ve developed relationships with several charities and volunteer groups. Of note, is our relationship with STOP THE TRAFFIK; a coalition which aims to bring an end to human trafficking worldwide.

Three years ago, I started working for them as a volunteer analyst. Over time, this has grown into a corporate partnership founded on information sharing, analysis and the collaborative development of bespoke tools, techniques and deliverables (more on this to come in the coming weeks… Watch this space!).

STOP THE TRAFFIK shines a light in dark places in order to uncover modern slavery and human trafficking and to disrupt it at its source. STOP THE TRAFFIK’s Centre for Intelligence-Led Prevention, in collaboration with technology partners, collect and analyse data on global human trafficking patterns. The intelligence gathered is used to build resilience and transform communities as well as to directly intervene in vulnerable communities. These actions seek to fuel the systemic disruption of human trafficking networks.

One of the aims of this initiative is to inform business and consumer communities about how and where modern slavery is present in global supply chains. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that business plays an integral role in the fight against these crimes.

Businesses can be associated with human trafficking, forced labour and exploitation, both directly and indirectly. Large companies are often implicated unknowingly, as a result of their long, multi-tiered, and transnational supply chains. Indeed, when a large company needs to address issues of modern slavery within its supply chains, it can often be entirely overwhelming as to where to begin. Nevertheless, as legislation becomes more stringent, the risk for businesses that ignore these issues increases.

Over the coming weeks, the Neotas team will expand on the issues relating to modern slavery in supply chains focusing the difficulty companies face in conducting due diligence on complex, multi-faceted and transnational networks, as well as shedding some light on the legislation that guides us. In addition, we will also discuss case studies in which Neotas have uncovered modern slavery in a supply chain using open sources.

Human trafficking and modern slavery are thought to be amongst one of the most widespread crimes in the world, affecting millions of men, women and children each day. Moreover, the problems are only increasing. It is time to change this dynamic and in the words of Baroness Stroud at the recent launch of, “To do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got”.

-Jennifer Roderick

Sprinting Against the Criminals

From the 22nd to 24th May, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for the United Kingdom held their 5th TechSprint at Canary Wharf. The theme of the TechSprint was Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Financial Crime and following an emotive launch, the event kicked off with gusto and excitement.

The event sought to increase understanding surrounding the challenges of financial crime and to deepen international and cross industry dialogue around the role of modern technology in tackling these issues. Amongst the 220 participants, including developers, subject matter experts, senior executives, and international regulators from around the world, were two Neotas familiar faces, myself and Kunal Aggarwal. We were not alone in our quest however as we were fortunate enough to join an amazing team with specialists from Octopus Labs, Lysis, and Idemia.

With the latest UN estimates suggesting that criminal activities, including drug trafficking, smuggling, human trafficking, and corruption, generate proceeds exceeding $1.6 trillion annually and that less than 1% of these illicit financial flows are ever detected, seized and frozen, it is time for the financial industry to respond. The problem is that it cannot and should not seek to do it alone. Indeed, the phrase “it takes a network to defeat a network” was mentioned in the open speeches and continued to ring true across the 3 days as new ideas were formulated, prototypes developed, and pitches practiced. Ideas and solutions covered blockchain, bitcoin, network analysis, digital identity, company due diligence and open source intelligence and while some solutions sought to solve age old problems with new technology others attempted to create solutions that would seek to get ahead of the criminals before they have a chance to exploit a weakness or failing.

In total, 16 ideas were pitched, potentially ground-breaking initiatives were developed, and countless business connections were made.

Given our background and expertise, we were able to enrich the information picture using open source information in conjunction with traditional data sources. Working with both our own team and others, including a number of the members of the RegTech team from the FCA, we were able to show how open sources both supports and enhances data and how it can create networks and insights previously uncovered.

Although it was a long and hectic few days, we absolutely loved the experience and cannot wait to continue our efforts with our team members and others, and to develop those conversations and relationships that were initiated over the 3 days. We strongly believe that this event triggered the start of great things to come and provided the perfect platform from which to launch a fight against some of the biggest challenges facing our society both now and in the future. On to the next challenge!