India's Cyber Cafes Told to Block Porn

Apr 27, 2011 10:00 AM PST

NEW DELHI — A new law in India now requires cyber café owners to make an effort to stop customers from viewing porn or obscene material in their establishments.

As part of India’s Information Technology (Guidelines for Cyber Café) Rules, 2011, cyber cafés have to register with the government and comply with the “request” to filter out adult material.

According to a Times of India report, the guidelines fall under an effort to protect against a security threat posed by "anonymous internet users," but most of the law is aimed at stopping patrons from seeing porn.

In addition to monitoring porn, the new rules force café owners to install filtering software and keep a log of all websites accessed by customers for at least one year.

Users must also present an identity card before being given access to a public computer and cubicles with walls higher than four and a half feet won’t be permitted.

Cyber café owners must also keep user logs and hand them over to the “registration agency” every month.

But the new restrictions have Internet activists up in arms and are calling the guidelines unconstitutional.

Pranesh Prakash, a program manager with the Centre of Internet and Society, said the rules will violate privacy and will hamper Internet users’ ability to freely express themselves.

A lawyer specializing in IT law, Pawan Duggal, told the Times that the new guidelines were arbitrary and if implemented would put most cyber café owners out of business. The attorney argued that watching porn is not illegal in India and that the new rules require a second look.

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