The Telecommunications UK Fraud Forum (TUFF), a widely respected anti-fraud association, has published an apology following the revelation that they infringed the intellectual property of Commsrisk and others. The apology accepts that it was wrong to reuse the content without permission, and commits TUFF to including intellectual property rights within the syllabus of their future training courses. This last commitment is a positive development; the additional training will help risk professionals to take greater responsibility for safeguarding telco revenues. As a consequence, Commsrisk will not pursue legal action for compensation.
The apology promises that all infringing material will be removed from TUFF’s website, and then adds:
TUFF will also undertake a review of its training materials to ensure that intellectual property rights are included in any future training as well as when choosing material for inclusion on the website.
This is a good outcome for the professional community, proving it is possible to turn negatives into positives by learning from mistakes. Though it took a little while to traverse the niceties of reaching an agreement, it was encouraging that Jack Wraith, TUFF’s Company Secretary, never expressed any resistance to teaching anti-fraud professionals about the laws surrounding copyright and other intellectual property rights. These rights have become an important source of revenues for many telcos, and their violation is a significant cause of revenue loss.
As traditional voice revenues decline and networks become more versatile it is vital that telecoms risk professionals adopt an agile approach to protecting the interests of their business. The days when somebody could spend a career dealing with just a few kinds of technical fraud are coming to an end. Professionals must now become conscious of how their specific focus fits within a tableau of risks and the disciplines used to mitigate them. A more rounded approach to education will prepare them for a complex risk environment where the methods used by criminals may seem divorced from their objectives. For example, how many of us would instantly identify the connection between a Facebook data breach and the popularity of previously unknown musicians on Spotify?
The transformation of the role of anti-fraud professionals is already taking place in some telcos. Many readers will know Pedro Bravo of Portuguese operator NOS, thanks to his contributions to RAG, the CFCA and other telecoms industry bodies. Pedro spent many years managing fraud but more recently his profile confirms he has taken responsibility for protecting NOS from television piracy. This work leads Pedro to cooperate with anti-piracy organizations like Portugal’s FEVIP, and begs a question about how risk professionals should evaluate the benefits of copyright protection when assembling an enterprise-wide view of leakages.
Some unfortunate myths encourage the widespread infringement of copyright. I thank Jack Wraith and TUFF for their willingness to put this unfortunate episode behind us, and to work with me to tackle common misunderstandings that can only impede the career development of telecoms risk professionals.