AN ADVERTISING firm’s website was suspended by President Trump’s Department of Homeland Security.

Brighton creative agency Designate stopped receiving emails on Tuesday, February 11.

It took more than a week to get its website and emails back up and running after a court in New York ruled it was an innocent victim in a case of mistaken identity.

Its website name was wrongly included on a list of sites thought to be linked to prostitution and suspended by the US authorities.

Designate’s executive director Jason Triandafyllou said the team was amused but also deeply concerned by the implications of the mix up.

He said: “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.”

Mr Triandafyllou said he still did not know the full impact. The company fears it could have suffered a loss of reputation and the suspension of the site has caused it to drop down Google search rankings.

“If we had been in e-commerce this could have put us out of business,” he said.

“But the danger is that we now know that the US can do this to any dot com site whether it’s hosted in America or not. If they suspect you of anything – even unproven – they could end your business.

“None of our IT specialist had ever even heard of this before.

“It has made us wonder whether we should switch to a dot co dot uk domain name instead. I don’t expect many people know this could happen.”

The Argus contacted the US Department for Homeland Security for comment.