FSA loses domain name battle

A small Bournemouth company is allowed to keep the fsa.co.uk Internet address that it registered four yeas ago, but now faces the threat of legal action
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has lost its battle to gain control of the fsa.co.uk domain name. The .uk domain name administrator Nominet has ruled that the Internet address should be left in the hands of the small Bournemouth-based company that registered the domain name four years ago.

On 24 September, in accordance with the rules of Nominet, an independent legal expert advised the registry to revoke its decision to suspend the fsa.co.uk Internet name, and leave it in the control of the family-run business Findlay Steele Associates. Nominet decided this week to accept the recommendation, and will not be cancelling the domain name.

"Accordingly we confirm that we will not suspend the delegation of the domain name nor will we cancel the registration of the domain name," states Nominet's final decision.

Findlay Steele Associates, a provider of software engineering services, registered the .uk domain name in good faith in April 1997. "(We) decided to register the UK domain name which best suited our corporate image. Naturally, that is fsa.co.uk," said Elaine Findlay, managing director of the company. "We have now been dragged through Nominet's dispute resolution service by a quango."

The FSA is concerned that confidential documents could go astray through public confusion over the domain name, but Nominet is satisfied that Findlay Steele Associates has taken reasonable measures to reduce the risk of email security breaches. The Bournemouth company has voluntarily changed its email traffic system to screen out and return emails intended for the FSA, and the Web site contains a direct link to the FSA homepage, which reinforces the disassociation between the two sites.

In the four years that have lapsed since Findlay Steele Associates registered fsa.co.uk, the FSA has refrained from issuing legal proceedings. "Taking out an injunction and forcing closure of the domain name is certainly an option now," said an FSA spokesman. "This is something that we haven't done yet as it would have seemed heavy... while going to court is expensive and the outcome uncertain. We wanted to arbitrate, and we thought it would come out more our way."

The FSA is now considering its next step, but has indicated that it will not be taking any immediate legal action.

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