Monday, August 16, 2004

ApiAp protests Banagalore law makers high handedness in regulating cyber cafes

Its unfortunate but true, Banagalore Police has finally passed through the regulation (details: )Its unfortunate, Bangalore city, the Silicon Valley of the east is in the league of China & Cuba for their respect to privacy. The regulation expects all Cyber Cafe operators to record the details along with a photo identity of all the people who access Internet in public places. Those who do not carry a photo identity need to be immediately photographed by a web cam. All the details of visitors have to kept for at least a year! We feel sorry Banagalore Cyber cell officials have not realized the complete implication of the law & perhaps begin a new chapter in cyber stalking. The personal records data can be misused. Begin with we foresee Women will be amongst the first to desert the cafes, refer the report, where a cyber cafe operator chased a girl,Unfortunately for him, he got his lessons from the Girl's brother. Now the Banagalore regulation offers a complete album -choose your target. It will be a delight for cyber stalkers ? How will a cafe owner ( age between 19 - 25 years )can safe guard this data from wrong intentions & as well maintain accuracy of the record ? Given over 60% of Banagalore netizens depend on Cyber Cafe for access, it will be like mapping the whole city population. The last such large attempts to maintain records were done by IT dept by issuing PAN number & election commission as voter id Card - its over 10 years & still struggling. The regulators do not realize the enormity of the exercise, what will be lost is the ubiquity in access to the net which is very important in developing the Digital society. Fortunately for us Banagalore cyber crime cell has 50 odd cases. This legislation is like a can of worms. The Bangalore regulators estimate 5000 cafes , some what a similar number of cobbler shop, or barber salon shop in Bangalore, Have they been licensed ? Can they be effectively be monitored. ? Countries who are more vulnerable of Cyber crimes, like London city which host as many cafe as Mumbai has & boasts the largest Internet cafes, do not insist on the recording the personal information of Internet surfer? Wonder what transpires and who inspires Indian regulators to do the impossible. We claim Regulation will bring legitimacy but unfortunately such regulations are a loose cannon ball, given the ambivalent cyber laws, many cafes operators from metro to small towns had to face harassments from the police or duped by the conman. It reminds us about the sad tale of the police harassment at Panickanadar Kudieuruppu a small village in the Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu in 2002 & the Conman posing as CBI officer held in Kolkata Cyber Cafe business in at the crossroad, it promises lot of opportunity & hope to many But still a mirage, we are waiting for more meaningful, trusted content till then we are left with the customers preying fingers to what he chooses rather thanwhat we can lead , Whom do we blame ? Few cyber cafe operators who are finding it hard to make a living will from the operations would prefer to move out than face harassments. The result of such regulations is loss not for the operators but for our all initiatives to bring in the Digital society or do we leave it , as a swan song for another ICT4D seminar in another 5 star hotel ? The loss is just not of the micro entrepreneur but its a bigger loss to all the people who have not yet been inducted to the world wide web.

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