US spooks target Brighton ad agency Designate

Running an ad agency can be a pretty precarious business – and now you might have to contend with the US Department of Homeland Security.

Brighton creative agency Designate found its website snaffled by the aforementioned spooks a week ago, leading to, among other things, no emails. Designate had been wrongly included on a list of sites suspended by the US authorities as they were thought to be linked to prostitution. Quite how this threatened US homeland security is not entirely clear – but let’s not go there.

Designate partner Jason Triandafyllou (left) told The Argus: “People started calling us up and saying ‘have your emails stopped working?’ We got on to our IT support company and they told us that anyone trying to access our website would just see a message saying our website had been seized.

“Initially we thought maybe we had been hacked.

“Our IT people contacted the domain hosting people and they said we would need to speak to a special agent in the department of homeland security.

“It makes me laugh a bit to say it because it sounds like something from a film. Later that evening I got a call back from a special agent called Timothy Moran. He said they were investigating prostitution and had suspended 400 domain names.

“I had to provide loads of information about when we bought the domain name and set it up. Eventually I got a draft stipulation which we needed to sign to go before a New York district judge in order to get back up and running.

“Basically we had to agree not to take any action against them for any losses incurred. They had us over a barrel but we had no choice.”

Designate’s website is now up and running. Dsignate is an IPA member agency. Perhaps D-G Paul Bainsfair might ring the Commander-in-Chief and give him a stiff talking to.

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