Conflicts over the proposed Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum (TCF) complaints code are delaying InternetNZ’s long-planned ISP code of practice.
However, the process of devising a code for internet service providers could speed-up again now overlaps between the two bodies’ responsibilities are being sorted out.
One issue concerns penalties, says InternetNZ executive director Keith Davidson. Some ISPs are happy with a bare set of instructions on how to be a good member of the ISP industry. But others want to have enforceable penalties for offences such as failing to back-up a customer’s data or allowing a customer’s domain name to expire.
The TCF code is, basically, a dispute-resolution scheme, but if a dispute cannot be resolved via corrections and apologies an ISP subscribing to the code could have a “determination” enforced against it, carrying a fine of up to $12,000, some or all of which may be paid to the aggrieved customer.Davidson sees the possibility of two codes operating together, with InternetNZ’s code of practice setting out standards for ISPs and the TCP dispute-resolution scheme providing forceful back-up in the case of serious breaches.
“We want to see progress on [the internet code of practice] in this calendar year,” Davidson says. But he admits it is doubtful much work can be done on it given that other large issues — including the reforms to telecoms law and copyright law — are now occupying InternetNZ.
InternetNZ, the TCF and the Marketing Association (formerly the Direct Marketing Association) are also working on a code of practice to eliminate spam and help handle customer complaints in this area. In this case, the government, in the form of the Department of Internal Affairs, will enforce penalties for serious offences.