The Internet Service Provider Association's (ISPA) largest member, Netcom Internet, has resigned from the organisation, claiming it is not competent enough to represent Netcom's interests.
Netcom, one of the world's largest service providers, left the association partly because of an incident during an interview ISPA had with Meridian TV. During the interview, which was screened across the whole of Southern England, Richard Sharpe, ISPA's press officer, claimed that Netcom was offering uncensored news feeds containing illegal pornographic material for u5 a month. Sharpe admitted that he had made a "slip of the tongue" and meant to say Netlink.com - a completely different company based in the US.
David Clarke, Netcom's UK managing director, was also concerned over the "communications between ISPA members", which he thought "inappropriate and unprofessional". He added, "Frankly we were very disappointed in both the members of ISPA and the actual management of the organisation."
Until very recently ISPA was a completely voluntary organisation - another major cause for concern at Netcom. Clarke explained "All ISPA's officials work for the organisation part time, while holding down other jobs. It needs to be more professional in every sense if it's going to represent this industry in the UK. It's taken on too big a job for volunteers."
Sharpe defended himself and ISPA, pointing to achievements both in the UK and Brussels. He said "The code of practice set up by ISPA is being adopted by Brussels for other European ISPs. That's hardly the work of an unprofessional organisation. We have also worked closely with SafetyNet and the Police to ensure the industry is represented properly on some extremely difficult problems."
To address issues of staffing and the level of communication the organisation has with its members, ISPA has recently taken on David Kennedy as chief executive, who is on secondment for two years from the DTI. He said "It is of course regrettable Netcom has resigned, but I will continue to try and reach Mr Clarke to discuss this issue with him."
This is the second incident to have shaken ISPA in its short history.
In the summer a row broke out between ISPA and Superintendent Michael Hoskyns of the Metropolitan Police's Clubs and Vice Unit. Hoskyns accused the organisation of leaking a private document to its members and misrepresenting his department's recommendations. The furore resulted in Hoskyns saying he had been "disappointed" in ISPA's handling of the situation.
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