The Internet Industry Association of Australia (Intiaa) hopes to have a set of enforceable guidelines for Internet service and product providers in place by May this year. A proposal from Intiaa is being circulated for discussion to such bodies as the Australian Broadcasting Authority, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Federal Minister for Communications and the Arts and the State Ministers for Consumer Affairs.
If the proposal receives support, Intiaa will form a Code of Conduct Council and a Complaints Committee with the power to impose fines, compel corrective advertising, publicly name offenders, deregister members and, when applicable, refer complaints to the police.
The code will be policed in two ways, said Patrick Fair, chairman of Intiaa's Code of Practice Taskforce. "We're hoping that it will work at the ground level and be policed by the customers themselves," he said. "If that doesn't work they will at least have the ability to complain to the council and then the council has the chance to do something about it." The second policing method will be through Intiaa members. "Included in the conditions of membership is the obligation to report anything that they may become aware of on the Internet that could be a scam or a fraud," Fair said.
Fair sees the code as being a form of industry self-regulation. The more providers who join Intiaa and adopt the code, the more credible and recognisable it will become to their customers. "If it is successful, customers will know that they can trust those who are registered. People can still use unregistered providers but will do so at their own risk," he said. Fair encourages providers to join Intiaa and adopt the code when it goes through, "They'll gain credibility and customer acceptance. The code will help the industry to grow by making it a mainstream industry conforming to industry standards and complying with local classification laws."