Bengalureans can access cyber cafés without getting their identification proof (ID) verified which increases the risk of cybercrime.
Several cyber cafes in Bangalore do not keep photocopies of identity proofs of their clients nor maintain registers of their names and other details. In some cases, they do not even ask to see the identity proofs. Cyber cafes have been mandated by law to keep these records.
The Softcopy found that seven out of 10 cyber cafés do not verify the IDs or keep a photocopy of users accessing the computers. The owners believe that it is not necessary to keep a check on regular users since no one inspects the registers.
The manager of Shree Shakthy Stationary, a cyber café in Rajarajeshwari Nagar said, “We maintain the register for the users but, if a person uses the computer for 10 minutes or less, we don’t usually collect their ID proofs.”
Divyanshu Kumar, a frequent visitor of the cyber café said, “The manager has never asked me for the ID proof but writes my name in the register.”
The Information Technology (Guidelines for Cyber Cafe) Rules, 2011 states that cyber cafes should not allow an individual to use its computer resource without establishing the identity of the user. The users must produce a document to confirm their identity and the cyber café should keep a record of the documents as a photocopy or scanned copy verified by the user. The records should be maintained for at least a year.
K N Yeshwanta Kumar, the investigative officer of cybercrime police station, Bangalore said, “It would be a strict violation of the guidelines if the cyber cafes don’t maintain a log of the users.”
Though the cyber cafes of Bangalore are not abiding by the guidelines, Kumar from cybercrime police station added, “There are other measures like installation of CCTV cameras in the cyber cafés to keep a check on the users. If something goes wrong, the user can also be tracked through the internal memory of the device.” Most of the cafes The Softcopy visited had CCTV cameras.
Pramod N. Kathavi, an advocate said that cyber cafes not checking ID proof is illegal and stringent action must be taken against them to prevent crimes in the future. “As the owners are not confirming the identity of the users, they are violating the guidelines under the Information Technology Act and the orders issued by the police or cybercrime investigation department”, he added.
He concluded that though there is no direct connection between the access of internet in cyber cafes and cyber crimes in Bangalore, such lapses increase the possibility of misuse of the internet by mischievous users. He talks about minors who can access prohibited sites and abuse the internet facility.
Mr. Kathavi added, “The internet cafes around Bangalore should have periodical checks and regular inspection to check if they are following the guidelines and if not, the owners should be either penalized or the license of the cyber cafes must be seized.” Currently, the owners are not penalized for not maintaining records.