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Self-policing, a form of self-regulation, is the process whereby an organization is asked, or volunteers, to monitor its own adherence to legal, ethical, or safety standards, rather than have an outside, independent agency such as a third party entity monitor and enforce those standards.


To the organization[edit]

An organization can maintain control over the standards to which they are held by successfully self-policing themselves. If they can keep the public from becoming aware of their internal problems, this also serves in place of a public relations campaign to repair such damage.

To the public[edit]

The cost of setting up an external enforcement mechanism is avoided.


To the organization[edit]

Self-policing attempts may well fail, due to the inherent conflict of interest in asking any organization to police itself. If the public becomes aware of this failure, an external, independent organization is often given the duty of policing them, sometimes with highly punitive measures taken against the organization.

To the public[edit]

The results can be disastrous, such as a military with no external, independent oversight, which may commit human rights violations against the public.

Not all businesses will voluntarily meet best practice standards, leaving some users exposed. Example: Self-regulation for online child pornography.

Forms of self-policing organizations[edit]

  • In direct self-policing, the organization directly monitors and punishes its own members. For example, many small organizations have the ability to remove any member by a vote of all members.
  • Another common form is where the organization establishes an external policing organization. This organization is established, and controlled by, the parent organization, so cannot be considered independent, however.
  • In another form, the organization sets up a committee or division for policing the remainder of the organization. The House Ethics Committee is an example in the United States government, while various police departments employ an Internal Affairs division to perform a similar function.

List of self-policing organizations[edit]

Examples of government-initiated self-policing programs[edit]

See also[edit]