RealTime IT News

Australian Net Industry Tries Again on Self-Regulation

The Internet Industry Association, the primary representative body for Australian Internet service providers, has released version 5 of its Code of Conduct.

The Code has been in almost constant redevelopment over the last four years, because it has never gained industry-wide support. IIA executive director Peter Coroneos claimed it was now the most comprehensive document of its kind in the world.

"We have needed to keep redrafting the Code to keep pace and that has involved extensive consultation, but the time now approaches for implementation," he said.

The most contentious part of the Code deals with censorship of online content. The Federal government passed a law earlier this year which will force ISPs to remove offensive content from their servers, and block access to classified material hosted on overseas servers.

The law allows ISPs to avoid those actions if it subscribes to the IIA's Code and provides end-used content filtering software, although this is subject to the Australian Broadcasting Authority, which administers the new regime, approving the new version of the Code.

"The approach can be reduced to four words: industry facilitated user empowerment," said Coroneos. "In the content area, this translates to providing users with the means to control content in their own homes."

The Code will be administered by an independent council, and organisations to sign up to adhere to the Code can display a compliance symbol on their Web pages and correspondence.

The IIA worked with the Australian Consumer Association to include enforceable provisions which consumers could use to seek remedies against e-commerce merchants, content providers and ISPs.

"Unless Codes contain meaningful and accessible remedies for users, they are not worth the paper they are written on, or in this case, the server space they occupy," Coroneos said.