Assam police make photo-identity proof mandatory for Internet Cafes


Guwahati, Aug. 9: Cyber cafe owners who fail to a record of the photo-identity proof of users or allow them to surf websites that contain pornographic or obscene material may run into trouble.
In a bid to tighten the noose around cyber cafes, Assam police will be implementing the IT (Guidelines for Cyber Cafe) Rules, 2011, in the state.
A senior police official said penal action would be initiated against errant cyber cafe owners, found to be violating the provisions of the recently framed rules. According to the rules, cyber cafes shall not allow any customer to use its services without submitting a photo identity. The intending user may establish his identify by producing a document that shall identify the users to the satisfaction of the cyber cafe.
Such documents may include identity cards issued by any school or college, credit cards or debit cards issued by a bank or post office, passports, voter identity cards, permanent account number (PAN) cards, photo-identity cards issued by the employer or any government agency and driving licences.
The source said there were more than 250 cyber cafes in the city but most of them were not following the rules, which were notified by the Centre in April this year.“The CID will convene a meeting of the associations of cyber cafe owners to make them aware of the rules. A separate meeting of officers-in-charge of police stations will also be held to brief them about the rules,” the source said.
In the absence of any monitoring, most cyber cafes were not following the rules that made it mandatory for them to maintain a log register containing a detailed record of all customers, including their name, address, contact number, age, gender, signing in and signing out timings, type and detail of identification document and the computer terminal identification number.
Cyber cafes would have to prepare a monthly report of the log register, showing date-wise details of usage of the computer resource and submit a copy of the same to the police. The cafes will also have to keep the records for at least a year and owners must ensure that the log was not tampered with.
“Since the rules have been notified and it clearly mentions that cyber cafes shall take sufficient precautions to ensure that their computer resources are not utilised for any illegal activities, we are now going to strictly enforce these rules. The owners will be held responsible and implicated for the illegal acts of their customers under the relevant provisions of the IT Act,” the source said.
The rules also stated that cyber cafes shall display a board, clearly visible to the users, prohibiting them from viewing pornographic sites as well as copying or downloading information that was prohibited by law.
“All the computers in the cyber cafes would have to be equipped with the commercially-available safety or filtering software so as to avoid access to websites relating to pornography, including child pornography or obscene information,” the source said.
“In case of minors, even if they are carrying identity cards, they will be permitted to use computers in a cyber cafe, but won’t be allowed inside cubicles if not accompanied by guardians or parents,” he said.
It also stipulated that the screen of all computers installed other than in partitions or cubicles shall face “outward”, that is, they shall face the common open space of the cyber cafe.
However, some cyber cafe owners feared that if they had to implement the rules, they may have to lose customers as many would feel that their privacy was being compromised.