Archive | April, 2012

How many UK banks will fall foul of this?

I am the attorney for a family member in England. That is to say, I hold an Lasting Power of Attorney explicitly executed by them last year.

The reasons one might give an LPA are explained here.  Setting up an LPA is an extremely sensible thing to do, and I commend it to anyone who is resident in England, Wales, Scotland or N. Ireland. (The law is rather different in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). Registration of the LPA gives effect to the powers under it.

I attempted to open a savings account in the UK today for the benefit of the person whose registered LPA I hold.  In fact what happened was I came across a list of Best Buy savings rates and one of them was the Principality Building Society.

But the Society explicitly denied the application to open the ‘E-Saver 5’ account as their terms and conditions exclude people who, unable to operate an account themselves, have given an LPA to a trusted family member of friend. I was told I could open a different account, on a postal application, but that the terms and conditions of the account would be different (and the interest rates would, I expect, not be as good!)

Unfortunately for the Principality Building Society, and any other bank having a similar condition, it appears that this is unlawful. To be precise it seems to me to contravenes the UK’s Equality Act 2010 , since disability is a ‘protected characteristic’. It’s unlawful to offer services on different conditions to disabled people as to able bodied ones.

I telephoned the Society, and the first person I talked to seem to me to be a bit offhand. I then spoke to a manager who was courteous, but confirmed their position and seemed to indicate that it was introduced “because of FSA moneylaundering rules” which I find rather hard to understand.

However, they’ve taken note of my complaint, and are investigating. An update will be posted here.

If anyone else has been affected similarly, please feel free to contact me.


Glass houses

ICANNIt’s easy to throw rocks at ICANN, which has once again good-naturedly blundered into a hornet’s nest. So I won’t.

But see for one take on this.

No complex information system can be guaranteed problem-free. Everyone who manages or runs such systems is in a glass house, and it behoves us to be constructive in our criticism.

I spend a lot of my professional life running game-theory situations about what to do to fix systems (including human systems) that break under unexpected loads and I think it’s a little harsh on ICANN to scream about this. There’s a tinge of schadenfreude in this afternoon’s commentary, I think.

You see, ICANN’s greatest problem is really one perception. It has set it itself up, over an evolutionary period of 15 years (gosh, is it really that long?) as, to use a common phrase I hear, as “the galactic lords of the Internet”.

And a common, but unspoken, thesis among ICANN people (and by that I do not distinguish between staff and participants)  is that ‘Daddy knows best’.

But those of us who know (and still have a great deal of affection for) ICANN know it as being (these days) entirely well-meaning, but not always as sharp as it might be.

One rumour is that the site was attacked by Anonymous. There’s no shame if that’s true — they had the resources to take the UK interior ministry’s website down last week, after all!

But the reality seems to be emerggin, is that ICANN in its insistence on micromanaging the business models of TLD applicants, wanted  EPP schemas in the applications.

Now EPP is based on XML which like HTML has lots of < and > characters. And the latest information is that ICANN’s application system may not have been able to handle those Yes, really! (If they can’t handle that, what about Unicode characters like you find in IDNS!)

If this is true, it tells me one thing.

ICANN didn’t test its system as it should have done.

That is to say, its likely that no dummy application was made by ICANN before releasing the system to go live with one of the most important systems on which several million dollars worth of applicant’s businesses were required to rely?

It begs a question as to whether an organization that is happy with this level of testing should be regarded as suitable for being awarded the contract to run the IANA and one of the 13 root-servers on which we all rely. But that’s a matter for others to ponder, not me.

I’m really not going to throw rocks. They have enough to cope with, without me sniping. They need a little space to get their act together now. So maybe we should leave the poor so-and-sos be?

But, really …  tsk tsk.


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