Even though instructions have been given at the Circle Inspector level to conduct regular checking of cybercafés, this has not been effectively followed up.
The Union government might have waged a war against cybercriminals, with the recent incident of unrest being triggered through social networking media demonstrating its threat levels, but the City Police seem to have lost interest in the cyber policing.
The City Police had tightened its monitoring over cybercafes, one of the vulnerable points open for cybercriminals, after a couple of misuses of emails were spotted from the city. In 2006, an email threat sent from one of the cybercafés in the city to the President and the Prime Minister was tracked down to a jittered lover. A couple of years later, another youth was arrested on charges of sending a mail to the President alerting threat to life of UPA president Sonia Gandhi.
The police suggested strict monitoring of cybercafés following this.
One of the reforms brought into place during this drive was to install third-party software to record the details of the person logging into a computer at the centre.
The Cyber Cell of the City Police was given access to the server where this software was based so that it could remotely access the log data.
Even though the software was free, it was based on a revenue model generated out of advertisements posted on home pages.
Many cybercafé owners complained about infringement of privacy and the move soon fizzled out.
At present, the police are relying on the instructions that details of the visitors to cybercafés are kept properly there.
Sources in the City Police said that even though instructions have been given at the Circle Inspector level to conduct regular checking of cybercafés, this has not been effectively followed up.
As per the Information Technology Rules 2011, those who use cybercafés should present one of the seven documents – identity card issued by any school or college; photo credit card or debit card issued by a bank or Post Office; passport; Voters’ Identity Card; PAN card issued by Income Tax Authority; photo identity card issued by the employer or any government agency; or driving licence - as proof of identity.
The rule also mentions that if a user is not able to establish his or her identify as required by the law, the visitor “may be photographed by the cyber café using a web camera installed on one of the computers in the cybercafé for establishing the identity of the user.
Such web camera photograph shall be part of the log register which may be maintained in physical or electronic form.”
But then, a cybercafé owner in the city said that asking for identification documents was much more safer than installing cameras and recording photographs, as the former step often acted as deterrent for those who came in with malicious intentions.