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ICOP Complaints Board Draft


An Internet Code of Practice Complaints Board (ICOPCB) should be established to address any complaints that arise in respect of the activities of the internet industry. The creation of this Board flows from the continuing growth and maturing of the internet industry, and is a logical consequence of the ICOP Code of Practice.

Currently, members of the community have few options if they need to resolve issues with ISPs. Litigation may be the only action for genuine grievances. A Complaints Board would provide a mediation-based forum that can be called upon to achieve equitable solutions.

The incidence of complaints against internet providers has been very low. The one that most will recall was the Xtra Voyager blocking incident.


The proposed ICOP Complaints Board is based on the current Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB). This body comprises eight members, four drawn from the public, and the other four representing different facets of the related industries.

The ASCB specifically deals with advertising issues, and this includes advertising on the internet. Areas of overlap between the ASCB and the proposed ICOPCB can be considered in respect of sharing knowledge and expertise. Glenn Wiggs, secretary to the ASCB, has offered to provide assistance and shared facilities to the ICOPCB.

Proposed Application


The Complaints Board will deal with complaints in respect of conduct set out in the ISP Code of Practice. Complaints on other matters will be dealt with on an individual basis.

The ICOPCB will handle complaints for signatories of the Code of Practice. Complaints against internet industry non-signatories are outside the scope of the ICOPCB.

The Code of Practice defines

  • an ISP as a person or organisation, who for commercial or non-profit reasons connects a user/users to the Internet, provides content (electronic commerce or other) over the Internet, or provides access to the Internet; an ISP who has signed the COP is defined as a signatory ISP;
  • a user as a person or organisation which has a connection to the Internet, and which may optionally provide content either locally or hosted by an ISP.

Board Membership

A pool of people will be appointed to be board members.
This pool will comprise five people who have technical expertise, and five people drawn from the public.

Technical members will be selected from signatory ISP's with no ISP being permitted to have more than one member on the board. There should be one serving ISOCNZ Councillor appointed to the ICOPCB.

The five members of the public will be selected in a similar manner to that adopted by the ASA. In fact one or no more than two of the non-technical members may also be board members of the ASCB.

At least two board members should have legal expertise. This could be drawn from central government, Crown Law, or from partners or senior staff of legal firms with an interest in IT or the internet.

The membership will be determined from initial invitations by ISOCNZ, consideration of expressions of interest, and selection by ISOCNZ.

A chairing role is elected annually.

Complaints Board

1. Complaints on receipt are reviewed to see if they should proceed.
2. If they are to proceed, a copy of the complaint, with the name of the complainant, is sent to the person(s) or organisation(s) nominated in the complaint. They are asked to comment within 14 days.
3. The Chair of the ICOPCB selects a group of five board members (complaints subcommittee) drawn from the total of ten. The Chair of the ICOPCB will be one of these five. The selection will be based upon the nature of the complaint and therefore the skills needed to resolve the complaint.
4. The full ICOPCB meets at twice per year whether or not there are complaints to deal with; Findings of complaints prepared by complaints subcommittees are tabled at each of these full meetings.
5. Complaints subcommittees meet as needed to deal with complaints.
6. The matter of meeting allowances payable to ICOPCB members is to be determined.
7. At the subcommittee meetings the complaint and responses are considered by the subcommittee members.
8. If the complaint is upheld, the offending parties are requested to rectify the situation that instigated the complaint. In addition, the decision is released in a press statement and published in the media. The decision reached by the complaints subcommittee of the ICOPCB is final and cannot be overturned by a subsequent meeting of the full ICOPCB.
9. Media releases are made by the ICOPCB and copies are also held with ISOCNZ.

Compliance with the Complaints Board is voluntary. The ICOPCB will take no action beyond a reasoned approach to the parties concerned and releasing statements to the media.

Relationship with the ASCB

Glenn Wiggs has offered to help; however their set up of fees etc is somewhat beyond what we might consider. They are well set-up with Board rooms, the Press Council etc. A sharing of board members and knowledge would be a good starting point.

Jennifer Northover
Policy Committee of ISOCNZ
16th March 2000

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