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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

European Banking Authority Expresses Concerns Regarding New Financial Sector Domain Names

Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

Federal Issues

On February 23, the European Banking Authority (EBA) released a letter it sent to the ICANN Board of Directors expressing concerns about ICANN’s June 2011 approval of a new program to allow additional generic top level domains, including “.bank” and “.fin”. The new domain names are expected to be available for use later this year. As the European umbrella organization comprised of the heads of each member state’s consumer credit regulator, the EBA is broadly tasked with European consumer financial protection. From that standpoint, the letter and an attached comment document ask ICANN to halt the use of the new domain names because they have the potential to increase consumer fraud and decrease data security. Further, the new names may require financial institutions to implement costly and complex legal and commercial initiatives to protect their trademarks from fraud. The EBA does not believe that ICANN’s proposals to mitigate these concerns, including a proposed new registration system for the domain names, are insufficient.