Comment requests on ISP code proceed apace

Consumer information and virus protection covered

Episodes of InternetNZ’s projected Code of Practice for internet service providers have been emerging at speed. Stuart Meiklejohn, charged with putting the code together, has been publishing extracts on particular subtopics for comment by InternetNZ members roughly every two working days.

Members are encouraged to make their comments by email within two working days for each section, though Meiklejohn says comments on any section will be accepted until the consultation period is complete.

As he explains in a preamble to each section: “The working paper is being released progressively to make the sections released easily answerable, and to avoid overcomplicating the consultation. The progressive release should allow interested parties to comment without being overburdened by considering all the issues at one time.”

Last week saw publication of sections covering consumer protection, including ISP responsibility for protection of users’ private information. Clearly there are legal obligations under the Fair Trading Act and the Consumer Guarantees Act, the brief points out, and there are other more discretionary items, such as the suggestion that each service provided be fully described “including its quality and other technical characteristics.”

”Feedback should consider whether these issues should be included in a New Zealand code of practice, and whether they should be mandatory minimum standards or optional best practice guidelines,” says the request for comment..

It is clear from the citations of other internet bodies’ codes that not all of them see it as necessary to include consumer standards in such a code, but the majority appear to include them in some form.

The third episode tackles the tendentious question of ISPs’ responsibility to make users aware of vulnerabilities in their computer systems that might allow them to be used to spread viruses and spam. This is conflated with protection from undesirable content.

“Consumers should be able to contact their service providers in order to receive information on how to restrict access to adult or offensive content on the Internet, and to ensure the security of their computer equipment from unauthorised access, viruses, and other potentially harmful computer programs,” says the draft.

There will be eight releases for comment in total, the last on February 14, says Meiklejohn. Comment from InternetNZ members will be accepted until March 4, then a second draft will be prepared and this will go to full public comment.

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