The Internet is not an anarchy by any stretch of the imagination. In spite of the populist rhetoric that we continually hear online the fact is that every resource that we access is OWNED by someone. That someone can be a large national service provider like AOL, or a Mom-and-Pop ISP in your local neighborhood or anywhere in between. Each one of these institutions make decisions that effect how we will experience the Internet. Will they allow advertising? Will they have interactive chats? What subjects will they choose for those chats? What behavior on their resources will they find acceptable? What behavior will they NOT find acceptable? Much like with a television station, ISP's control what information is broadcast from their site. Some ISP's are less caring than others, giving users total control over what they present. Others, like AOL, have placed tighter restrictions...sometimes tighter than even is comfortable or perhaps even constitutional in the country they do business in.
WHOA believes that, like television, Internet policies are controlled by the special interests that fund them. This can mean businesses that provide advertising or consumers who hire the services that the companies offer. We do not support forcing sites to adopt a certain set of policies. We value their right to police themselves, but at the same time urge them to exercise their responsibility to protect the public interest.
Many sites have already voluntarily adopted policies opposing harassment. We salute them for doing their part to make the Internet an anti-harassment environment.
The following are some samples of possible policies that your site might choose to adopt, or that you might suggest to a site administrator. They range in level of restraint and severity. We urge you to adapt these to fit your own needs for your site. Naturally, a BBS dedicated to adult themes is going to have a different standard of acceptable use than a survivor's mailing list.
We respect your right to free speech but require that you accept the following condition on your usage of this service: Please do not use your account to harass others. If you are asked to cease contacting someone via our service, we ask that you respect that wish.
We oppose online harassment and ask that you not abuse our resources by making frequent unwanted contacts with another. If you fail to adhere to this policy we will provide you with one warning. After that warning, further evidence of your noncompliance with our acceptable use policy will lead to fines up to $100 and the possible revoking of your account.
Taken From Women Online Worldwide's WomanSpace Chat
If you need help creating a policy that will work best for your site, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss the matter with you and help you develop a unique anti-harassment policy that suits your needs.
Also, if you have a policy that you think would be a great example to others, please send us the information so we can help develop this resource for all sites.