Holding Broadband Providers to Account: A Consumer Advocacy Manual
The Internet is an empowering force for the world's consumers, connecting them with their families, governments, communities and markets both nearby and far. Broadband access is needed for them to fully take advantage of all that the Internet offers. As such, strong consumer protection for consumers of broadband services is vital, not only to enjoy the Internet itself, but to fully participate in the many other areas of modern life to which it connects them. Consumer organisations have a vital role to play in promoting high consumer protection standards for broadband providers, and in holding them to account when they fall short.
This manual is designed as a primer for consumer advocates wishing to enter the battle for fair and high quality broadband services, but uncertain about where to start. It begins with an overview of the practice of consumer advocacy, including simple guidelines for effective campaigning with particular attention to key areas such as communications and partnerships. It moves on to explain the technical and policy issues that surround broadband services, including "traditional" consumer protection issues such as unfair contract terms and complaint handling, but also broader issues such as privacy and network neutrality.
Finally the manual outlines three campaign ideas, responding to problems that CI members uncovered through research conducted in 2011. These are a "Broadband Disclosure Statement" to address the opacity of broadband contract terms, a "Don't Lock Me In!" campaign against providers who stop consumers from shopping around for the best deal, and a campaign to provide broadband consumers with better independent resolution services. Included are template resources from which members can "cut and paste" for use in their own campaigns, leading we hope to concrete improvements in the quality and fairness of broadband services for consumers around the world.
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