Legal Advice: Knowing Your ISP's Contract Terms And Conditions

What are you getting into when you sign up for an ISP? What exactly does it mean when you click on the

An ISP or Internet Service Provider is a business that provides Internet access to individuals and businesses. There are many ISPs that provide this service and new ISPs popping up every day. ISPs typically provide consumers with a contract, which details the ISPs terms and conditions of service. Requirements, acceptable usage, and payment terms are just a few of the subjects that are spelled out in this contract. It is wise to read it through thoroughly to understand what you can expect from your ISP, as well as what your obligations are as a consumer.

One important subject covered in an ISP's contract is payment and billing. The payment and billing sections usually include the fee schedule for the particular ISP, as well as the forms of payment accepted, such as credit cards, personal checks, or electronic funds transfer. The specific payment and billing terms will vary with each ISP. The contract should also spell out any additional charges you will incur if your payment is late, your credit card is declined, or your check bounces.

Usage and account activity is also covered in most contracts. Information included will cover acceptable uses, risks, security issues, and usage plans. The contract will also give details regarding the ISP's liabilities, software and content provided by the ISP, waivers, and any applicable third party rights.

The ISP's spam policy can be found in most contracts as well. Spam is junk e-mail or junk newsgroup postings and generally includes any unsolicited advertisement sent through e-mail or posted on newsgroups. Spam is such an annoyance to most Internet users that many ISPs have policies to prevent its use. In most cases, if you are caught sending spam, your contract can be terminated with little or no advance notice.

The contract terms and conditions should include details concerning the ISPs termination policy. In this section you should find information on how to terminate your account, the length of time required to terminate your account, and any cancellation fees involved. You will frequently find a few sentences, which state the ISP can terminate your service for any reason and at any time. The language will usually include details of when and how you will be notified of termination. Read this section carefully because many contracts state the ISP has no obligation to notify you before terminating your account.

You will also find any applicable details concerning your rights and responsibilities as a consumer. For example, your ISP may state you have the responsibility to provide them with valid contact and billing information. The contract should set forth any prohibited uses such as spamming, stalking, or stealing passwords. You may find a detailed account of penalties for violation of the ISP's terms of service, which can range from a simple warning to an immediate account termination. For very serious criminal violations, ISPs may refer offenders to criminal authorities for prosecution.

It is wise to read the ISP's contract terms and conditions over very carefully before you decide to use their services. The contract is legally binding and once you agree to the terms you are expected to adhere to the ISPs rules.

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