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02|24|2012 12:01 am EDT

European Banking Authority (EBA) asks ICANN to stop .fin and .bank

by Frank Michlick in Categories: new gTLDs

According to a release on the website of the European Banking Authority (EBA), the organization calls ICANN to reconsider plans to allow .fin and .bank gTLDs and is asking ICANN to ban the establishment of financial services gTLDs alltogether.

As main concerns it states:

  • the potential lack of tie from the new financial TLDs to specific supervisors in specific countries
  • the cost for existing banks to protect their trademarks in new gTLDs
  • protection of the new gTLDs against fraud and phishing
  • a “not-as-yet identified benefit”

The Association reviewed the concept of new gTLDs targeting the financial market such as .fin or .bank in detail. The EBA’s Board of Supervisors then discussed this topic in detail in December 2011 and a related release was then finally issued yesterday after a letter was sent to ICANN on February 20th. The application process  for new gTLDs started on January 12th, 2012. The EBA was set up as one of Europe’s three European Supervisory Authorities in 2011.

See the full text of the release and the related letters to ICANN after the jump.

Comments of the EBA to the ICANN on the planned Top Level Domain Names .bank and .fin

23 February 2012

In June 2011, the ICANN Board of Directors approved a ‘New Generic Top Level Domain Programme’ that allows the implementation of additional gTLDs. Under this programme new gTLDs such as ‘.bank’ and ‘.fin’ could be established and assigned to companies or individuals claiming to be financial intermediaries or banks.

The EBA has had the opportunity to examine the issue of the envisaged new Top Level Domains (TLDs) ending in ‘.bank’ and ‘.fin’ in detail and to discuss it in the latest meeting of its Board of Supervisors in December 2011. It has come to the conclusion that there are many supervisory concerns surrounding the operation of the proposed TLDs by the ICANN, relating mostly to the great potential, according to the EBA view, for misuse by unscrupulous individuals, and that, therefore, any plans for their operation should ideally be discontinued.

It is the view of the EBA that potential mitigating measures such as those which, we understand, are envisaged by the ICANN (creation of separate entity for the registration and control of these TLDs, or other technical ways to ensure the security of the system) do not necessarily mitigate the financial supervisors’ concerns. The potential for consumers of financial services to over-rely on what might be perceived as ‘regulatory endorsement’ of the companies operating under such TLDs is immense, and the risk for new types of fraud and ‘phishing’ can be enormous. The same can be said of the danger for confusion regarding the operation of legitimate websites by ‘true’ financial institutions and regulated entities. This could lead to the need for them to establish costly and complex legal or commercial initiatives in order to safeguard their trademarks from frauds and abuses.

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