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Finance watchdog calls for e-regulator status

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UK financial regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA) yesterday admitted its regulations for the Internet were outdated, and outlined a five-pronged plan of attack for improvement. The Authority said the Web had forced it to re-think its existing rules and that it planned to launch a strategy for "e-regulation". Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference, Howard Davies, chairman of the FSA, said: "We have to find a way of adapting our regulatory environment to new technology, not adapting the new technology to the old regulatory rules." The FSA's plan of action for regulating online financial activity includes: The setting up of a team to surf the net and spot problems. Educating customers on the pros and cons involved. The FSA promised that users would be able to run cheaper and easier checks on companies they wanted to do business through a re-vamped FSA website. Increased co-operation with regulators abroad to deal with offshore sites. Ensuring that saving and investing through the Internet was as safe as using any other method. Making sure that the rules were followed "by taking enforcement action, where appropriate, against those responsible for the content of a Web site". The FSA had previously been slammed by the industry for what was seen as its outdated approach to the Internet. It was feared the regulator's rules were based on paper and pen transactions -- and were not taking cyberspace into consideration. Davies said the FSA wanted "to debate actively with the industry" on the matter. ®

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