Press release: ISPA’s Self-Regulatory Measures Help Safeguard Consumers

Published on: 2011-06-14

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The Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) is providing a strong self-regulatory function in the Internet service provision industry following its previous recognition as an Industry Representative Body (IRB) by the Minister of Communications in May 2009.

Furthermore, in a boost for IT literacy training in the country, all incoming fines levied for breaches of ISPA’s Code of Conduct is used to help fund ISPA’s Teachers’ Training project.

The organisation has reported to the Minister that last year it passed on more than 45 takedown notices to its members and mediated in 132 Code of Conduct complaints. Forty of these complaints were initiated by ISPA’s own Secretariat in an effort to proactively police compliance with the Code while 92 complaints were lodged by members of the public. Sanctions were imposed on members for 18 of these complaints.

The most common complaints about from the public were about service levels and customer support, contractual disputes, spam and billing.

The former Minister’s recognition of ISPA as an IRB as defined in Chapter XI of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2002 gives ISPA’s members immunity from liability for third-party content carried over, or hosted on their networks.

The Act sets out a takedown notice procedure to allow for legitimate complaints about unlawful content to be sent to ISPs. In addition, it recognises an IRB’s Code of Conduct and complaints procedures as a self-regulatory mechanism for the industry.

Said Ant Brooks, General Manager at ISPA: “ISPA believes that the Code of Conduct and complaints procedures fulfil a vital role for the industry by giving consumers an avenue to escalate complaints against ISPs who are members of ISPA.”

The take-down notice process provides an efficient mechanism to alert ISPs to allegedly unlawful content hosting on their networks. The high rate of successful resolutions of both complaints and take-down notifications indicates that the procedures ISPA has in place are effective and efficient.

For ISPA members, the protections against service provider liability they enjoy as members of an IRB are a massive benefit and an incentive to comply with the ISPA Code of Conduct, he added. This gives consumers significant protection against unethical behaviour by any organisation that is a member of ISPA.

One requirement for ISPA’s ongoing recognition as an Industry Representative Body is that of compliance monitoring and enforcement. For that reason, the industry body provides members with an online tool to verify compliance with its Code of Conduct.

During 2010, members were audited to ensure that the information provided in the self-verification process was up to date, and accurate. As a result of this process, 15 ISPA members had their memberships terminated as a result of failure to become compliant with the Code after informal and formal warnings.

Further Information

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