(Scroll to the end of the story to read the judgment by Nominet) Confidential information about f...
(Scroll to the end of the story to read the judgment by Nominet)
Confidential information about financial services firms is being accidentally sent to a software firm rather than the regulator because its email address is too similar to that owned by the Financial Services Authority.
The FSA and its lawyers are locked in a dispute with a Bournemouth-based firm to try and gain control of the domain name www.fsa.co.uk, however, the IT company - called Findlay Steele Associates - is accusing the FSA of using bullying tactics to get its domain name, web address and email changed.
Findlay Steele Associates registered its domain name in 1997 before the FSA was formed as it wanted to use the three letter name for its corporate expansion plans, however, Findlay has since been receiving letters sent to fsa.co.uk rather than fsa.gov.uk which - according to Findlay - were sent by authorities from the Bank of England as well as from the FSA's lawyers.
The FSA has since been in touch with the company offering to "settle all reasonable fees and expenses which you may incur" because it believes consumers will become confused by the existence of such similar addresses.
Both parties are now in domain dispute resolution with Nominet in an attempt to find a suitable settlement, however, Findlay Steele has already rejected an offer from the FSA to pay for the domain name, arguing that the amount the FSA is offering will not cover its corporate web expansion plans and has concerns that such a case will lead other large companies to force smaller firms into relinquishing domain names.
Full details of the fsa.co.uk and fsa.gov.uk dispute are published on the Findlay Steele website, including brief details of the emails sent to Findlay Steele by mistake.
Findlay points out that all emails it receives in error are immediately bounced back to the sender informing them of the mistake and the message is subsequently destroyed, however, the FSA says it is now trying to gain control of the domain name "to protect consumer interests".
"There is a dispute which has gone to the Nominet dispute agency. We acknowledge that the company had the site beforehand, but in the interests of rectifying consumer confusion, we are trying to ensure that we eliminate that confusion," says a spokeswoman for the Financial Services Authority.
"We have been in discussion with other companies and firms about the use of FSA, and where appropriate we have had meetings with them too," she adds.
Since preparing this story, Nominet, the dispute resolution adjudicator, has announced its judgment.
Nominet says while does not believe legal proceedings are likely to be actioned by the Financial Services Authority, the dispute has to be resolved.
Therefore, as of tomorrow (26 September) the domain name fsa.co.uk will be suspended for one month, preventing access or emails to that adddress.
Both parties must resolve the issue by 5pm on 26th October or the domain name will become freed again, and it will be allocated on a first-come first-serve basis.
Findlay Steele Associates says it will appeal the decision, however, in the meantime it will implement systems to bounce back all emails which are not addressed to Findlay Steele staff and then await the FSA's decision.
Read the fsa.co.uk website for the latest updates.
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