Press release: Internet Browsing History is Private Property, Says ISPA

Published on: 2008-03-18

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The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) fully supports Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s recently-stated opinion that it is “fundamental that a web surfer’s browsing history belonged to him and not the ISP.”

Sir Tim has raised privacy concerns about web tracking systems which record the details of websites visited by consumers, so that targeted advertising can be directed at these consumers by third parties.

ISPA’s view is straightforward. The only time an ISP should divulge a consumer’s Internet browsing history to a third party without the individual’s consent is when the ISP is obliged to do so by an Act of Parliament, such as the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA).

Although ISPA has historically served the interests of ISPs, its commitment to the growth and development of the Internet in South Africa means that it is also committed to educating and protecting the South African Internet consumer.

Consumers will only trust Internet based communications and transactions if they feel confident that their best interests are being protected by responsible operators who adequately safeguard their privacy.

ISPA members undertake to comply with a Code of Conduct which specifically states that “ISPA members must respect the constitutional right of Internet users to personal privacy and privacy of communications.”

The Code of Conduct further states that, “ISPA members must respect the confidentiality of customers’ personal information and electronic communications, and must not gather, retain, sell or distribute such information to any other party without the written consent of the customer, except where required to do so by law.”


The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) is an Internet industry body representing small, medium and large Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in South Africa.

The ISPA Code of Conduct is available at the following URL:

Further Information

For further information, please contact the ISPA secretariat on the Contact ISPA page.