Code of Practice | The Internet Service Providers Association

Code of Practice

Companies who choose to become members of ISPA agree to abide by the ISPA UK Code of Practice.

ISPA members' allegiance to the Code means that consumers can view the ISPA UK logo as a mark of commitment to good business practice.

Adopted by ISPA 25 January 1999

Amended 03 July 2007

Table of Contents

  • Preamble
  • 1. Interpretation
  • 2. General Requirements
  • 2.1 Internal Communications
  • 2.2 Legality
  • 2.3 Decency
  • 2.4 Honesty
  • 2.5 Fair Trading
  • 2.6 Customer Contracts
  • 3. Promotion
  • 3.1 Scope
  • 3.2 Pricing Information
  • 4. Data Protection and Privacy
  • 5. Internet watch Foundation
  • 6. Transfer of Domain Names
  • 7. Best Practice
  • 8. Complaints Procedure and Sanctions
  • 8.1 Point of Contact
  • 8.2 Membership of an ADR scheme
  • 8.3 Complaints Proceedure
  • 8.4 Referral to third party
  • 9. Sanctions
  • 10. Changes to Code


(a) This Code of Practice (Code) shall govern the conduct of the Members (as defined below) of the UK Internet Services Providers Association (ISPA). The application of the Code shall be uniform and obligatory to all Members without modification or exception. A Member may not, by contract or otherwise, evade the application of the Code. For the avoidance of doubt, the ISPA code does not supersede the requirements of CSPs to have a code of practice approved by Ofcom, as required by the Communications Act 2003.

(b) The Council (as defined below), or such of its officers as it may nominate, shall administer the Code. The administration of the Code shall be reactive only - the Council will not monitor Members' activities for breaches of the Code.

(c) From time to time the Council may issue policy statements regarding matters relating to the regulation of the Internet in the UK. After due and proper consultation with the Members, such policy statements may be adopted into the code and shall thereby be binding on Members.

(d) Members agree that, as an ISPA member, they must abide by the Code.

(e) For the avoidance of doubt, and save for any express provisions to the contrary, nothing in the Code shall be taken to suggest that the Code regulates and/or that the Council will adjudicate on the legality or otherwise of material accessible on the Internet, whether by Members or otherwise. Where a Complaint (as defined below) concerns the legality of such material, the Secretariat (as defined below) will advise the Complainant to contact the originator of the material directly.

(f) Members recognise that compliance with the Code does not necessarily guarantee that they are acting within the law. Any reference in the Code to lawfulness or unlawfulness relates solely to UK law.

1. Interpretation

1.1 Unless otherwise stated, capitalised terms in this document shall have the following meanings:

1.2 In this document, any reference to an enactment or statutory provision is a reference to it as it may be amended or re-enacted, and any reference to a code of practice is a reference to it as it may be amended or re-issued.

Articles Articles of Association of ISPA
Child abuse images Material prohibited by section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978
Council ISPA Council
Customer Any customer of a Member
Complaints Procedure The complaints procedure set out in Clause 8.2 below
Hacking Denial of service attacks and all other forms of unauthorized access to computer or communications equipment including, without limitation, all offenses under   the Computer Misuse Act
Members Voting and non-voting   full members of ISPA, i.e. those members which have the right to participate fully in activities of ISPA (exapt, for non-voting full members, to receive notice of, attend, and vote at any general meeting of ISPA, and to nominate candidates in any election for the Council)
IWF Internet Watch Foundation
Promotional Material Any, material, in whatever form, promoting any Services
Secretariat ISPA Secretariat
Services Service(s) provided by any Member
UM Unsolicited advertising material or information sent to an e-mail address or newsgroup
UM filtering Software Computer software used for filtering out UM prior to it reaching e-mail addresses and/or newsgroups
Terms and Conditions Any Member's standard terms and conditions governing the provision of Services to its Customers
Third Party Content Material accessible via a Member's Service, which originates from and/or is owned by one or more third parties (including, for the avoidance of doubt, that Member's Customers)

In this document, any reference to an enactment or statutory provision is a reference to it as it may be amended or re-enacted, and any reference to a code of practice is a reference to it as it may be amended or re-issued.

In this document, and where the context allows:

  • references to a company include any other organization, sole trader, or person as appropriate;
  • references to persons include companies (but this might not apply where the company is not acting as a consumer withinrelevant legislation);
  • references to the singual include the plural and vice versa;
  • references to the masculine include the feminine.

2. General Requirements

2.1 Internal communications
2.1.1 Members must use reasonable efforts to communicate the existence of ISPA Membership and this code of practice within the Member company.

2.1 Legality

Members shall use their reasonable endeavours to ensure the following:

2.2.1 Services (excluding Third Party Content) and Promotional Material do not contain anything, which is in breach of UK law, nor omit anything which UK law requires.

2.2.2 Members, their Services (excluding Third Party Content) and Promotional Material do not encourage anything which is in any way unlawful.

2.3 Decency

Members shall use their reasonable endeavours to ensure the following:

2.3.1 Services (excluding Third Party Content) and Promotional Material do not contain child abuse images or material inciting violence, cruelty or racial hatred.

2.3.2 Services (excluding Third Party Content) and Promotional Material are not used to promote or facilitate practices which are contrary to UK law.

2.4 Honesty

2.4.1 Members shall use their reasonable endeavours to ensure Services (excluding Third Party Content) and Promotional Material are not of a kind that are likely to mislead by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise.

2.5 Fair Trading

2.5.1 In their dealings with consumers, other businesses and each other, Members must act fairly and reasonably at all times.

2.5.2 Members must, upon request, use reasonable means to bring to the attention of their Customers the existence of the Code.

2.6 Customer Contracts

2.6.1 Members shall ensure that they bring their Terms and Conditions to the attention of all new Customers before such Customers register with a Member for Services.

2.6.2 Members must include in their contracts with Customers a provision requiring Customers to comply with the UK law in using any of the relevant Member's Services.

3. Promotion

3.1 Scope

3.1.1 Members shall use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that Promotional Material observes the provision of this Code in the manner most reasonable and appropriate to the technology employed.

3.1.2 Promotional Material transmitted by radio, television, or any other form of communication shall observe the provisions of the broadcast advertising codes - that is, the Radio Advertising Codes and the Television Advertising Code - administered by the Avertising Standerds Authority on behalf of Ofcom in accordance with section 319 of the Communications Act 2003.

3.1.3 Promotional Material shall comply with the provisions of the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion, which is supervised by the Advertising Standards Authority.

3.1.4 Services and Promotional Material shall comply with the Code of Practice applied by PhonePayPlus when access to them is made via a premium rate telephone call.

3.1.5 In addition to the codes of practice referred to in Clauses 3.1.1 to 3.1.3 above, Members shall also comply with any other code of practice expressly regulating Promotional Material in the manner most reasonable and appropriate to the technology employed.

3.2 Pricing Information

3.2.1 Members shall ensure that charges for Services are clearly stated in relevant Promotional Material. Members shall make clear whether any such charges quoted are inclusive or exclusive of VAT. Where additional charges, for example on-line charges, are payable, such chargesshall be stated.

3.2.2 Members shall use reasonable endeavours to ensure that pricing information relating to charges for Services is easy to understand and prestented in an accurate, up to date, legible, and suitably prominent way.

4. Data Protection and Privacy

4.1 Members shall comply with UK legislation relating to data protection.
4.2 When registering with the Information Commissioner, all Members shall in their application state that the data may be used for regulatory purposes and that ISPA is a potential user of that information.

4.3 Where Services involve the collection of personal information, such as names and addresses, from individuals (Data Subjects), Members shall make it clear to Data Subjects the purpose for which such information will be used. Members shall also identify the data user (if different from the Member or Data Subject) and give the Data Subject the opportunity to object to such usage where it is not essential for provision of the service.

5. Internet Watch Foundation

5.1 ISPA membership does not automatically confer IWF membership. Members are encouraged to consider direct IWF membership.

5.2 ISPA co-operates with the IWF in its efforts to remove illegal material from Internet web-sites and newsgroups. Members are therefore required to adhere to the following procedures in dealing with the IWF.

5.3 Members shall provide ISPA with a point of contact to receive notices from the IWF.

5.4 Where the IWF has notified them that Internet sites they host and/or Usenet news groups contain material which the IWF considers to be illegal child abuse images, members shall remove the specific web pages and/or Usenet articles. If it is not technically possible for them to remove the material, Members shall notify the IWF of the reasons as soon as reasonably practical.

5.5 Where lawfully requested by the IWF or a legitimate law enforcement authority, and where they technically able to do so, Members shall retain copies of removed material for a reasonable period of time.

5.6 Members should take careful consideration of all other IWF notices and recommendations.

6. Transfer of Domain Names

6.1 Members shall not register domain names for use by Customers in the Member's own name, or the name of a third party, except with the Customer's informed consent.

6.2 Where a Customer has one or more domain names managed by the Member, a Member shall allow the Customer to transfer management of that Domain name to another ISP (whether or not that other ISP is a Member). The transfer shall be made within 5 working days of the latest of:

(a) the request being made, or

(b) the Customer paying all sums owing to the Member in respect of the initial registration or renewal before the date of the request, or

(c) the Customer paying all sums owing to the Member relating to other Services.

However, (c) shall not apply if this requirement was not made clear to the Customer before the Member started to manage the domain name.

6.3 Clauses 6.1 and 6.2 do not apply to a domain name that is a sub-domain of a domain name controlled by the Member and is used to provide domain names for more then one unrelated Customer.

7. Best Common Practice Statements

7.1 ISPA Council may issue Best Common Practice (BCP) statments. For the avoidance of doubt, these are not binding on members and do not form part of this code of practice.

8. Complaints Procedure and Sanctions

8.1 Point of Contact

8.1.1 Each Member shall notify ISPA of a single point of Contact ("Contact") for the Member who is authorised to deal with ISPA complaints. The Contact shall be familiar with the ISPA Complaints procedure.

8.2 Membership of an ADR Scheme

8.2.1 All ISPA members shall belong to an Alternative Disbute Resolution (ADR) scheme approved by ISPA Council. This applies whether or not the members is required by Ofcom to belong to such a scheme.

8.2.2 The Currently approved ADR schemes are:

8.2.3 For the avoidance of doubt, a change to the list in 8.2.2 may be made at any time by ISPA Council and is not a change to this code within the meaning of section 10.

8.3 Complaints Procedure

Where a Customer or other third party (a Complainant) makes a complaint to a Member that the Member has acted in breach of the Code (a Complaint) the following procedure shall apply.

8.3.1 Where the Complaint is made to the Member, the Member shall use its reasonable endeavours to resolve the Complaint within 10 working days of receipt, whether by email, letter, telephone call, or in person.

8.3.2 Where the complaint is notified to the Secretariat, the Secretariat will direct the Complainant to contact the relevant Member direct if he has not already done so.

8.3.3 Where a Complainant informs the Secretariat that his Complaint has not been resolved ta his satisfaction within the time-frame set out in Clause 8.3.1 above, the Secretariat will:

(a) ask that the online complaint form be used (or a letter sent to the Secretariat if the Complainant's Internet access is restricted)


(b) forward the Complaint to the relevant Member's contact (see 8.1.1)

8.3.4 The Member shall respond to the Complainant directly within 5 working days seeking to offer a solution to the problem. If the Complainant remains unsatisfied, or has not been contacted by the Member after the specified time, the Complainant will be instructed to file a second complaint with ISPA.

8.3.5 Once a second complaint has been made, the Member shall either offer a solution to the Complainant or advise the Complainant that deadlock has been reached and to contact the appropriate ADR scheme for adjudication.

8.3.6 Deadlock will be considered to have been reached if the Member and the Complainant have reached an impasse and the negotiations and no further progress can be made.

8.3.7 Deadlock will automatically be considered to have reached when a complaint has not been resolved within 2 months from the date of the original complaint from the Complainant to the Member, as described in 8.3.1. However, Complainants should not be made to wait 2 months as a matter of course and Members should declare deadlock under 8.3.6 as soon as appropriate.

8.3.8 Prior to its resolution, the details of any Complaint to which the ISPA Complaints procedure has been applied shall be kept confidential by the Member unless published by the Complainant.

8.3.9 If the complaint is escalated to Ombudsman Services, the ISPA Member shall provide the Complainant with an Ombudsman Services reference number and direct the customer to complete the Ombudsman Services online application form. Additional guidance for users of Ombudsman Services, how to issue an Ombudsman Services reference number, and Rules for Ombudsman Services members are available from the ISPA web site.

8.4 Referral to third party

8.4.1 Where a Complaint appears to fall within the ambit of a particular regulatory or self-regulatory body (such as IWF, PhonePayPlus or Ofcom), the Secretariat or Council may refer the Complaint to that body.

9. Sanctions

9.1 Where the Council decides, pursuant to Clause 8.2.1(d) above, that a Member has breached the Code, the Council may, having taken all relevant circumstances into account:

(a) require the Member to remedy the breach; and/or

(b) require an assurance from the Member, or any associated individual, relating to future behaviour, in terms determined by the Council; and/or

(c) suspend the Member from ISPA without any reimbursement of membership fees in whole or in part; and/or

(d) convene a General Meeting of ISPA for the purpose of considering an extraordinary resolution for the expulsion of the Member, in accordance with Article 2-9 of the Articles;

(e) At its absolute discretion publish part or all of its decision.

10. Changes to the Code

10.1 The ISPA Council may publish a policy statement which they propose to adopt into the Code of Practice. Such a statement must be published at least in the same manner as a notice of a General Meeting. Such a policy statement might, but need not, have been previously published as a BCP.

10.2 No less than 90 days and not more than 180 days after such a policy statement has been published, the Council may declare it has been approved.  If approved, the statement is adopted as part of this Code of Practice. The Council need not make such a declaration, and must not do so if 5 members have objected in writing before adoption.

10.3 Any policy statement adopted in this manner may be removed from this Code by a resolutions - passed by simple majority - at a General Meeting.

10.4 Any other change to the Code shall be made by formal resolution at a General Meeting of ISPA, with the resolution requiring two-thirds majority of those voting (which, for the avoidance of doubt, excludes abstentions).

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