Cybercafe privacy in India questioned
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BANGALORE, India (AP) -- Cybercafe owners are complaining about a new rule that requires them to record personal details of every visitor to help police track perpetrators of Internet-related crimes.
Police in Bangalore sent hundreds of letters in the past month asking cybercafes to keep records of visitors in case police want to investigate virus attacks, online fraud and terrorism. Under the rule, a visitor must produce a photo identity card before beginning to browse. Login and log-out times will also be noted.
Internet users expressed concerns about intrusion of privacy and police harassment, while the cafe owners fear a drop in customers.
"People ask why they must part with personal details just to send an e-mail." said G. Satish, co-owner of Cyberia, a downtown Internet shop that caters to tourists. "Many have walked out of my shop after being asked to register themselves."
Pavan Duggal, a lawyer with expertise in cybercrimes, said the rule had several legal loopholes and presented a good case to be challenged in court.
"National security and individual privacy must be kept in balance," he said.
The police, Duggal said, can't guarantee that the personal details left in a cybercafe will not be misused or sold to telemarketers.
"Cybercafes are only a medium," Duggal said. "Don't punish the pipeline because you are getting dirty water."
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