Keeping an eye on cyber cafes

We live in an age when Internet has become a necessity more than just a want. Owing to this growing dependence, cyber laws, under the Indian Information Technology Act of 2000, were implemented to keep in check activities in the virtual space.

According to the laws specified for cyber cafes, these cafes should not allow
anybody to use their computer resource without establishing the identity of the user. In addition to this, they have to maintain a record of all the users.

A lot of cyber cafes in the City have taken precautions to verify the identity of the users. But these form a minuscule percentage as there are lot of places that do not follow
cyber laws.

Is there a need for stricter implementation of such laws? 
When the authorities were asked about this, a spokesperson from the Cyber Crime Police Station explained that an officer, above the rank of Police Inspector, is authorised to check or inspect a cyber cafe at any time for the compliance of these rules.

The cyber cafe owner should provide related documents, registers and any necessary information to the inspecting officer on demand.  “If the owner is found guilty, a 15-day-notice is given to him during which he is answerable to the inspecting authorities. If it is not found satisfactory, he is referred to the adjudicating officer of the IT Department, who then takes a decision. The violators have to pay Rs 10,000 as fine.”

The identity of the users have to be established by checking any of the following documents — school or college ID, photo credit card or debit card, passport, voter’s ID card, PAN card, government or employer-issued photo ID card or driving licence. This helps in regulating cyber crimes and the abuse of computers.

Kirti Mohan, a final year law student, says that it is imperative that such measures are taken.

“By verifying the identity, you come to know if the user is underage. Also, if there is a case of pornography or any other cyber crime, nabbing the errant person is easier.”

But many owners say that sometimes people argue that they are not aware of this. In such cases, if they feel the person concerned is in dire need, they let them use the computers.

Says Kumar, who owns a cyber cafe near Garden City College, “Usually we get only college students. So we make it a point to check their college ID cards. Sometimes, they come to us saying they have left their ID cards at home. We let them in only if we know them very well, otherwise we refuse to let people in without identification.”

However, just the thought of having to flash a card puts users off as they feel it is a cumbersome process. Priyanka, an engineering graduate, says that it need not be made mandatory.

She reasons, “Nowadays people have access to Internet in their houses too. Only if there’s some work that needs to be finished urgently, do they head to a cafe.” But she maintains that it is up to the discretion of the cyber owners.

Cyber cafes should take sufficient precaution to ensure that their computer resources are not used for any illegal purpose. Laws are meant for the safety of the people and hence it should be implemented well.

Published: Deccan Herald

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