The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has fined Afrihost R14 000 for failing to abide by sections of the organisation’s code of conduct.

The breach of the code of conduct was brought to the ISPA’s attention by Afrihost customer Gerd Naschenweng who had opted out of marketing emails but continued to receive mails.

“The complainant’s main complaint relates to spam email he was sent 4 times within a short period of time in early June 2017 notwithstanding the fact that he had opted out of all marketing from the Respondent [Afrihost],” the ISPA explained in its ruling.

After receiving that slew of emails the complainant checked that he had unsubscribed from receiving marketing emails only to find that he had and should not be receiving emails.

Upon receiving even more spam the complainant attempted to unsubscribe again only to find that the unsubscribe link was broken.

These two instances break the following sections of the ISPAs code of conduct.

F.16  ISPA members must not send or promote the sending of unsolicited electronic communications and must take reasonable measures to ensure that their networks are not used by others for this purpose.

And

F.17 ISPA members must provide a facility for dealing with complaints regarding unsolicited electronic communications originating from their networks and must react expeditiously to complaints received.

In addition to these two breaches the ISPA found that Afrihost had also contravened section D.10 and I.23 of its code of conduct

In summary Afrihost breached sections D.10, F.16, F.17 and I.23 of the ISPA’s code of conduct.

The fines for those breaches are R2 000, R4 000, R4 000 and R4 000 respectively.

“I honestly find the fine inadequate considering that this affected a large number of users which where spammed repeatedly and deliberately,” Naschenweng told us.

He will appeal the ISPA’s ruling on the fine as he believes it was not harsh enough and that a stronger message needs to be sent to ISPA members.

Collectively Afrihost now faces a fine of R14 000 but it does have two weeks to appeal the ruling. Should it not appeal the ruling the firm has seven days to pay the fine.

Afrihost to its credit has recognised its systems failed it and at the time of the failure apologised to Naschenweng for sending him unwanted emails.

“It was never Afrihost’s intention to send any communications to unsubscribed clients – Unfortunately our systems failed us and we acknowledged that these communications were sent out in in error,” Afrihost chief executive officer Gian Visser said.

“We do our best never to communicate with any clients who do not wish to hear from us,” said Visser who added that customers can opt-out of marketing communication through the Afrihost ClientZone.

We are awaiting comment from ISPA, which we have made three requests for. When we receive a response from the association we will be sure to update this story.

[Image – CC BY 2.0 Mike Mozart]