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India mulls tough ID rules for cybercafés

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Internet cafés in parts of India face closure if new regulations forcing them to provide police with names and addresses of all their customers are introduced. Under the new rules, visitors to Internet cafés will have to show their ID cards or be photographed.

The governor of Karnataka State in southern India is reported to be close to passing the new law, which is desinge to fight cybercrime. Similar measures are also being mulled for Mumbai and Maharashtra State.

Media rights group Reporters Without Borders condemned the law change as "a threat to [the] confidentiality of cybercafés".

"Rules about to be adopted in Karnataka and Maharashtra states do not observe the standards of a democracy in protecting personal freedoms. The fight against terrorism and cybercrime should not lead to systematic monitoring of Internet users," said the organisation.

Indeed, critics warned that the measures will do little to prevent cybercrime and could lead to many cybercafés closing as users shun the regulated cybercentres.

Said Ashish Saboo, president of the Association of Public Internet Access Providers (APIAP): "These new measures are likely to dissuade many Internet users from going to cybercafés and could lead to closure of almost half of them. Keeping this type of register is completely ineffective to fight computer fraud or cyberterrorism." ®

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