"In America we have already seen rhetoric and debate over legislating access to the Internet and control of potential abuses," explained John Manfredi, exec VP of Nabisco Inc. and chairman of ICC's Commission on Marketing, Advertising and Distribution. "These attempts tend to be more dangerous than positive. It is better to promote responsible self-regulation that lets governments and consumers know that we are as concerned with preventing abuse as they are."
Last month, a U.S. court blocked implementation of the 1995 Communications Decency Act, which sought to ban indecent material on computer networks. In its ruling, the court declared the Internet to be a chaotic new medium, elusive and tricky for government to regulate.
The ICC's cyber-guidelines are fairly straightforward, advising advertisers to disclose their identities to clients, clearly explain any charges incurred, allow people the right not to be contacted, and respect consumers' wishes that information about them not be held or given to other marketers. The rules also call for extreme care in creating messages, in order to avoid offending the world's different sensibilities; ban accessing consumers' computers without permission, and call for respect of the Internet's special culture.
The ICC hopes its effort will be adopted by national business associations and governments the way many of its other self-regulation recommendations have.