Online Codes of Conduct

The UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre conducted a research project in 2011 and 2012 with generous assistance of the auDA Foundation looking at Online Codes of Conduct.

Connolly, C and Vaile, D, Drowning in Codes of Conduct: An analysis of codes of conduct applying to online activity in Australia, Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, UNSW, Sydney, 2012. Available at:

With auDA Foundation support, this was the first comprehensive comparison and analysis of the sixteen main Australian Internet Codes of Conduct, using a set of criteria based on best practice in consumer protection.

Initially 10 Codes were considered, growing to a final number of 16 (13 plus three of uncertain status). Researchers conducted interviews and surveys using Best Practice Guidelines for code operation to derive detailed questions, and sought to verify this with feedback and consultation with the operators. An extensive table of results takes up most of the 70 pages, and the introduction sets out some of the issues for consumers which we extracted from the data.

Observations started from the discovery that there were surprisingly many codes – with even more in the wings? The issues for consumers included a complex, confusing mosaic of coverage, variation in compliance with Guidelines, inconsistencies between the codes and their procedures, referrals processes often inadequate, complaints processes often inadequate, and overall complexity from the perspective of the online consumer.


Contact us at the following address if you are interested in collaborating on a research project. We have roles for interns, industry and community partners, and research associates.

Contact: David Vaile

d.vaile [at] (insert the '@' symbol we omit to deter spammers)

ph:+61 2 9385 3589