The police are developing a computer programme which will enable them to know the identity of persons who access the Internet through computers installed in cyber cafes in the city.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, C.H. Nagaraju is scheduled to call a meeting of Internet cafe owners in the city to persuade them to install the software, which an information technology firm is developing at the instance of the police.

Once installed, the software will link computers in Internet cafes to a centralised server controlled by the city police.

The programme will allow a customer to access the Internet only after the computer digitally captures his image. The photograph, along with the name and address entered into the machine by the user, will be automatically sent to the centralised server through the Internet. The server will issue the customer a unique user identity code and password for accessing the Internet. He can use the identity code to access the Internet through any cyber cafe computer linked to the centralised server. The police said the software, if installed, would discourage pranksters, scaremongers, hackers, radical elements and sex offenders from misusing the Internet by exploiting the relative anonymity provided by cyber cafes.

Several cyber crime investigations had reached a dead end because the offenders had used Internet cafes giving fictitious names to the management. The police said the software would not be used for violating the privacy of Net users.

The State police often receive hoax communications, chiefly anonymous phone calls and rarely e-mail messages, threatening national leaders and vital installations. In at least a few cases, the police found it difficult to trace the pranksters because they had created e-mail accounts using Internet café computers and under fictitious names.

A senior official said that such “believable hoax messages” prompted urgent response from authorities. Such repeated false alarms degraded the response of the police and other emergency services. Quoting from an intelligence manual on terrorist tactics, he said such hoax messages were also aimed at overwhelming the limited counter terrorism and disaster management resources of the State. So far, most such hoax messages were from pranksters intent only on causing minimal disruption.