Saturday, August 14, 2004

Fake Police raids

Off late I have been receiving a spate of emails/ calls /personal interactions complaining about Police raids on their cafes.

The common situation described is such raids are as follows :

Some people visit the cafe download music files / a recent movie clippings or some sexually explicit images. After downloading immediately these people tip off the so called Police and representatives of Indian Motion Pictures Association ( IMPA ), Anti piracy cell. The Police men orders for the shut down of the cafe and investigates all the computers . Of course in within no time they are able to locate the pirated files. The cafe owner is threatened with severe punishment starting with lodging of First Information Report ( FIR), lock ups etc ... They finally take away a signed confession on a blank piece of paper, in some cases confiscate the computers too. It is rumored in most cases the matter is settled with by meeting the demands and finally the FIR is never lodged or any court notices sent. Our inquiries have revealed most of these are fake raids and have not been authorized by the Police. It is a act of a few black sheep who very well understand the Cafe operators apprehensions. Most of the complainants have been seeking for a legal course. Unfortunately few have been able to corroborate their cases with any evidence for the obvious reasons. Further there can never be any legal course available to those who oblige to such hush money demands.

Why are we targeted ?

The Extortionist studies his prey carefully . They understand the Cyber cafe owner operates by himself, and makes sure has no support base in the vicinity . Those offering Large cabins for in the name of privacy are easy targets. Further thanks to stiff competition few cyber cafe operators in their own vicinity speak to each other thus never are able to share the commonly faced issues. Internet Cafes business are at the forefront of the cutting edge technology . New technology has been a challenges to social norms and old methods of business. so in the course of operations we as service providers have been caught in the bind. If you seek legal redressal then we have to follow the norms. Those who are deliberately promoting porn, selling pirated music are making it hard for all of us. While in certain issues there can be multiple interpretations. As explained by Cyber law practitioner Mr. Pawan Duggal in an article published in the Economic times. Thus in such cases, I feel the past conduct of the parties involved determines the course of legal action. you can take a few Precautionary measures as follow: # If you not done anything wrong than do not feel petrified by such threats. # Do not give away to prosecution threats. you are only making your case weaker. # Do not install unwanted software # clean the computer hardisk regularly for all such files which your customer may have downloaded # Keep the cafe environment open. # Build neighborhoods goodwill, finally you are amongst the special business who are able to make access of information affordable. # Speak the issues faced with other operators in the vicinity & seek each others support in countering such fake raids. And finally it is our collective responsibility to make others understand our contribution to the society and perhaps will lead to all of us in gaining more business opportunity and make our business sustainable.

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