Thursday, May 12, 2011

New Law For Internet Cafes

Today morning, sipping hot tea and glancing through The Hindu news paper, my eyes got struck on a news headline in the last page - 'New IT rules may make cyber cafe's out of bounds for users'. The news attracted my attention because a new cybercafe was established recently near my house by some of my friends. Even though it was not a top class internet cafe, they have invested a large amount with respect to their potential.
The new law enforces the owners of the cybercafe to store even the minute details regarding the identity of the customers. This is a very difficult task since it consumes more money. Most of the cybercafes are run by people who have moderate income and moderate knowledge in computer handling. If new law is enacted in letter and spirit it will put the owners of cybercafes in to trouble.
We cant blame the government for forming such strict laws in the light of the recent events relating to terrorism. The customers can misuse the internet cafes to sent a false alarm to the government authorities or to threaten a VIP or such etc activities.

According to the new rule, the cybercafe customers are required to furnish proper identification proof, a copy of which may be stored for a year. Acceptable identity cards include those issued by any college or schools, or photo credit cards, passports ,voter identity card,PAN cards, driving licenses or any card issued by the government agencies including UID number. School children who do not have a photo ID card will not allowed entry unless accompanied by an adult having proper identification proof. Additionally, the cybercafe owners must photograph their customers and maintain a detailed time log of each of their visits. A soft and hard copy of these usage logs, which will include customer's photograph and ID proof, must be submitted to a government designated person or authority every month. The cybercafe owner shall be responsible for keeping the backups of following log records for each login to its computer resource for atleast one year, for atleast one year.
According to the Information Technology Act,2008, the furniture in cybercafe must be cubicles with partitions having height not more than four and half feet. The terminals must be placed in such a way that the display of the computers face outwards and can be easily monitored. The computers in cybercafes must be equipped with commercially available safety or filtering software to avoid the customers accessing pornographic websites. A board displaying prohibition of viewing pornography must be placed in a location in the cybercafe easily seen by all customers.
The law affects the cybercafes in the city centers than that in the rural areas. The storage of the customer details both in soft and hard forms will require cost which the cybercafe owners have to spend from their pocket or levied from the customers. However the law discourages the cybercafe customers from using cybercafes. The only hope for the cybercafe owners is that only an officer of the registration agency can inspect the enforcement of this law in cybercafes and not the police. There is also a high chance for the law to be remain only in paper since the strict enactment of the law may lead to the closure of the majority of the cybercafes. The government can lend a helping hand by providing software required and free space for gathering and storing customer identity details.

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