The Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) has removed the ability for the public to see whether a WASP which has been fined by the organisation has paid its fines or not.
This follows numerous media reports that one WASP, Buongiorno, has over R3-million in fines under appeal, with the oldest case dating back 4 years.
One WASPA member, who asked not to be named, called the decision to remove the “fines status” a cover up by the organisation.
Another WASPA member, who also asked to remain anonymous, said that this may well be a “fix” for its inability to effectively regulate the WASP market.
WASPA responded to MyBroadband’s query by saying that it was removed to avoid misrepresentation in media reports.
“The fines status has been removed for the moment while WASPA looks at ways to provide useful information on the site, while trying to reduce the chance of being misinterpreted,” said WASPA.
WASPA added that while the status of fines was removed, it is one of the few regulatory bodies in South Africa that publishes every single adjudication and appeal panel ruling on its website.
WASPA’s full response
The information on the public section of the WASPA website regarding the status of fines has been somewhat misinterpreted in recent media coverage of WASPA’s rulings, so the fines status has been removed for the moment while WASPA looks at ways to provide useful information on the site, while trying to reduce the chance of being misinterpreted.
Recent media coverage incorrectly counted fines imposed on companies which no longer exist, or which have withdrawn from the South African market and which therefore no longer fall under WASPA’s jurisdiction as “unpaid”. Similarly, WASPA does not count a fine as “paid” until it has been paid in *full*, so a number of large fines which are being reliably paid in instalments were also counted as “unpaid”. Finally, fines which were, according to the independent adjudicators’ rulings, suspended pending an appeal were also being reported as “unpaid”, even though WASPA may not, according to the Code of Conduct, impose those fines until they are confirmed by an appeals panel.
While WASPA has removed the status of fines, WASPA is one of the few regulatory bodies in South Africa that publishes every single adjudication and appeal panel ruling on its web site, making them all available to the media and the public.
WASPA has maintained this commitment to transparency since the adoption of the WASPA Code of Conduct in 2005 and has no plans to stop publishing the full reports on its web site.
However, WASPA believes that it is the best interest of the WASP industry and the public for the information available regarding rulings against members to be accurate, and not subject to easy misinterpretation. We are therefore reviewing the information on the status of fines to see how this can be improved in the future.
For the record, in the interests of transparency, as at the end of April 2013, there were 13 fines which remain due and not yet paid in full. For nine of these, the service provider is paying the fine in instalments.
For three of the four remaining fines, a further complaint has been lodged against the service provider involved for failing to comply with the sanctions. For the remaining fine, no follow-up complaint has been lodged so far, but one will be lodged if the fine is not paid in the near future.
Will hiding the fines status information discourage companies to pay their fines?
WASPA does not need to rely on the information listed on the WASPA website to encourage members to pay fines. WASPA members are expected to fully comply with all of the sanctions imposed by independent adjudicators — not just fines — and any member not complying with imposed sanctions is the subject of a follow-up complaint for non-compliance with those sanctions, since the failure to comply with any sanctions is itself a breach of the WASPA Code.
WASPA’s adjudicators have terminated or suspended members in the past for non-compliance with sanctions and WASPA’s independent adjudicators will do so again in the future, should that become necessary.
Hence, while transparency is certainly a good strategy for any self-regulatory body, WASPA does not rely on the complaints archive on the WASPA website to enforce any sanctions imposed on its members.