TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Indian States Monitoring Cybercafe Users

Indian States Monitoring Cybercafe Users

S. Srinivasan (
Tue, 10 Jan 2006 12:28:08 -0600

By S. SRINIVASAN, Associated Press Writer

The southern Indian state of Kerala will join two other states in
requiring cybercafes to record the names and addresses of their
customers in an effort to combat online fraud, virus attacks and
terrorism, an official said Tuesday.

The new rules would require cybercafes to verify the identities of
Internet surfers and record their home addresses and visiting times,
said M. Vijayanunni, the top administrator of Kerala's government.

"Our police are trying to learn from the experience of our neighboring
states and monitor cybercafes better," he told The Associated Press in
a telephone interview.

Two Indian states -- Karnataka and Gujarat -- have imposed similar
rules, hoping such records would help trace threatening e-mails or
unauthorized credit-card transactions. Two other states, Tamil Nadu
and Maharashtra, do some monitoring of cybercafes without having
specific laws.

Several other Asian countries and cities, most prominently China,
require registration at cybercafes. Italy is the only European Union
country to require Internet cafes to record ID information, but
nonmember Switzerland does require that customers show ID.

All Internet surfing leaves an electronic trail that can be traced to
the computer it came from. But police need other records to trace the
person that used the computer at a specified time.

In December, an unidentified Internet user sent a hoax e-mail to a
U.S. diplomatic mission claiming a bomb would go off in India's
Parliament. The building was evacuated amid panic.

The mail was later traced to a cybercafe in the town of Palayamkottai
in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, but the sender has not been
caught yet.

Privacy advocates question the effectiveness of record keeping -- which
they say is hard to enforce.

"Such rules have proved to be ineffective and enjoy little support on
the ground," said cyberlaw expert Pavan Duggal. "It is also very
difficult to implement them."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

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