Dr Ken Harvey, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, School of Public Health, La Trobe University, would like some questions answered about the promotion of complementary medicines on the web:
“The Australian has reported my complaints to authorities over the promotion of complementary medicines on “liverdoctor.com” by Dr Sandra Cabot; real name Dr Sandra McRae, a NSW registered medical practitioner.
Dr McRae responded that the complaint had been rejected by Australian authorities as being outside their jurisdiction because the website on which they appeared was subject to US rather than Australian regulations.
The domain history of “liverdoctor.com” shows that Dr McRae was listed as the administrative and technical contact for this web site until she changed this to US personnel after receiving my first complaint. She remains a medical practitioner registered in NSW, she continues to promote herself and her products using her Australian credentials and her web server and name servers remain in Australia.
The same complaint was sent to two different bodies: the industry Complaint Resolution Committee (CRC) of the Complementary HealthCare Council of Australia and the independent Complaint Resolution Panel (CRP) who administer the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code. Both bodies were involved because the complaint involved both the web site and information on product labels.
The CRC dismissed the complaint because they believed the matter was now the responsibility of US authorities. The CRP referred the matter to the Regulatory Compliance Unit of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). I have yet to hear if they have accepted jurisdiction over this
Regardless, the different response received from two complaint bodies dealing with the same issue highlights the current uncertainty over who has jurisdiction over information on web sites that are alleged to breach national laws.
Is it the country where the web site is based, the country where the domain is registered, or the country of the person actively promoting themselves and their products?
Can anyone cast more light on these matters?”