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European Banking Authority hits out at .bank domain plans

28 February 2012  |  9690 views  |  1 URL

The European Banking Authority (EBA) has called on Icann to ditch plans to allow '.bank' and '.fin' top-level domains, warning that they could be used by phishers to trick customers.

Last June the Icann board gave the go-ahead for a raft of new generic top-level domains. The programme means that options such as '.bank' and '.fin' could be established and assigned to firms or people claiming to be financial services firms.

The EBA board of supervisors has written to Icann, expressing "many supervisory concerns" about the plan, centring on the "great potential" for "misuse by unscrupulous individuals".

Icann's plans to mitigate the risks, through the creation of a separate entity for the registration and control of these domains, are not enough to allay the EBA's fears.

"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," says the letter.

In addition, the move could prove costly for genuine financial services firms that are forced to "establish costly and complex legal or commercial initiatives in order to safeguard their trademarks from frauds and abuses".

With registration already underway for the new raft of domains, the EBA says the '.bank' and '.fin' options should "ideally be discontinued" but says that at the least it will issue a consumer alert and bring in other European authorities.

Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 29 February, 2012, 13:02

The EBA Board of Supervisors come to the erroneous conclusion that a ".bank" TLD would be a security threat. In reality, the *lack* of a .bank TLD is a potent and growing security threat. The line of reasoning in the EBA's statement is tantamount to saying that banknotes should be printed on normal paper, using ink and printing machines available to anyone. It goes without saying that the ability to produce the distinguishing markers in security features must be restricted. In the case of banknotes, access to the special paper, ink, printing machines etc. is tightly controlled. The same applies of course to a .bank TLD: it must be reserved to banks that have gone through a stringent screening process, designed for the purpose. Furthermore, banks using the .bank TLD must be required to comply with a specific policy framework. Those policies must be developed and maintained by banks' regulatory and self-regulatory agencies. This is why the EBA should assume a regulatory role for the .bank TLD, in consultation with other financial regulatory agencies.To build reliable infrastructure for financial transactions on the Internet is not a nice-to-have. It is the duty of the EBA. It is appropriate for the EBA to insist that ICANN adapts its New gTLD Program to the needs of key public resources like the .bank TLD. But it would be entirely inappropriate for the EBA to block, as a result of a misunderstanding, an urgently needed security enhancement.

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