Press release: ISPA Statement on Website Take-Downs

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The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) is a non-profit industry association. ISPA plays an administrative role in handling Take-Down Notices that are lodged against ISPA members in terms of section 77 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002 (“ECT Act”). This legal process allows anyone to lodge a Take-Down Notice to request the removal of allegedly unlawful content hosted by members of a recognised Industry Representative Body, such as ISPA.

Upon receipt of an administratively correct Take-Down Notice from a complainant, ISPA passes the notice on to the relevant ISPA member, who then makes a decision regarding the removal of the website. Members generally make this decision based on the substance of the complaint, their own terms of use for the website hosting service, and any response their client — the website owner — may provide to the Take-Down Notice.

ISPA’s role is to ensure that a member responds timeously to a Take-Down Notice, but a member is entitled to refuse a particular Take-Down Notice. If a member chooses not to remove the targeted content, ISPA does not and cannot force the removal of a website. An ISP opting not to take a particular site down loses the special limitations on liability set out in the ECT Act, for that website.

As per section 77 of the ECT Act, a Take-Down Notice can be any claim of unlawful activity. The leading category of notice is copyright and trademark infringement, followed by fraud, malware and phishing. A small number of complaints involving hate speech, defamation, harassment and invasion of privacy are also processed each year.

In order to respect the privacy of the parties, ISPA does not comment on any specific Take-Down Notices. ISPA believes that it is important to be transparent about the number and type of Take-Down Notices lodged, and publishes annual statistics on its website.

Further Information

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