ISPA NPC is a non profit company with members (registration number 2016/167416/08). It was founded in 1996 as a voluntary association and incorporated in 2016. ISPA has a Board of Directors who are elected by the members of ISPA for a three-year term. Each voting member of ISPA has an equal vote, and any member providing Internet access services in South Africa qualifies as a voting member.
On 20 May 2009, ISPA was formally recognised by the Minister of Communications as an Industry Representative Body (IRB) in terms of section 71 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (Act 25 of 2002). This recognition gives the members of ISPA special recognition and limited liability for Internet content.
Regulatory representation, advice and support
ISPA has influenced and shaped telecommunications policy in South Africa since its formation in 1996. The Association has provided submissions and feedback to such key pieces of legislation as the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, the Electronic Communications Act, the ICASA Amendment Act, and the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communicated-related Information Act.
Monthly video briefings are offered to ISPA members on industry developments and regulatory news. ISPA also publishes advisories on key issues, with the goal of delivering short, easy to read advice on what ISPs need to do to comply with each set of legislation or regulations. ISPA’s regulatory advisor is also available to provide support and advice to members.
Over the years, ISPA has developed good working relationships with governmental bodies, including ICASA, the Film and Publications Board, and SAPS and other industry associations, including WAPA, SABRIC and the SA Wi-fi Forum. ISPA maintains relationships with similar associations in other countries, in order to share information and experiences on similar industry issues.
ISPA handles numerous consumer complaints each year. The complaints process provides a useful safety value for customers who have perhaps not reached the right person within an ISP to resolve their complaint. ISPA’s process ensures that the complaint is escalated to the correct person, and this often facilitates amicable resolution of the complaint and allows the ISP to retain a customer who may otherwise have been lost. In cases where informal resolution is not achieved, an independent adjudicator review process is supported.
Code of Conduct and consumer confidence benefits
All ISPA members are bound by the ISPA Code of Conduct. This Code requires all members to meet certain standards in terms of privacy, consumer protection, and protection of vulnerable persons. Members of the public buying services from ISPA members know that they are being presented with honest and accurate information about those services, and have a recourse if they are not.
ISPA receives many complaints from consumers against non-members of ISPA. Once these complainants discover that they have no recourse because their service provider is not a member of ISPA, they often express an intention to move their business to one of ISPA’s members.
Take-down notice process
In accordance with our recognition as an IRB, ISPA operates a take-down notice process on behalf of its members. This process allows for unlawful content hosted by ISPA’s members to be reported, and, where necessary, acted upon. This process facilitates the removal of phishing and fraud sites from the South African Internet. By supporting the take-down notice process, ISPA’s members gain special limitations on liability for content.
ISPA has an active security working group, that monitors national cybersecurity developments and engages other industry bodies with cybersecurity programs. ISPA operates the industry iCode project which is designed to combat infected end-user machines on the South African Internet. ISPA is also active in promoting online safety, with a section of its website dedicated to safety resources and a poster project.
ISPA founded South Africa’s first Internet exchange in Johannesburg in 1996, and it has operated continuously (with no unplanned downtime!) since then. Now run under the auspices of INX-ZA, there are now exchange points spanning multiple locations in three cities. ISPA’s members enjoy discounted access to the INX-ZA exchanges.
ISPA co-hosts the annual Internet industry iWeek conference each September. This event brings together a number of ICT industry bodies, government representatives, and civil society participants to debate Internet policy, new technologies, and other issues which are shaping the sector. In addition to iWeek, ISPA hosts regular online briefing sessions for members, and facilitates a number of training workshops each year. ISPA operates a travel subsidy program for members located outside of workshop locations.
Since 2000, ISPA has actively supported ICT in education. The SuperTeacher project provided ICT literacy and usage training to thousands of rural teachers. ISPA members have provided considerable financial support for this program. Together with its partners, ISPA continues to mentor and support teacher training, and recognises some of the outstanding achievements at each year’s SuperTeacher awards ceremony.