Legal Regulation of Cybercafés: The Indian Experience

Legal Regulation of Cybercafés: The Indian Experience

S.R. Subramanian (Hidayatullah National Law University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-847-0.ch029
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Cybercafés constitute the most important model of public access to Internet, especially in developing countries. They compensate those who temporarily or permanently lack access to the Internet. However, the deeper and the wider penetration of the Internet also increased the opportunities for misuse of technologies. Due to a number of reasons, cybercafés have the huge potential for facilitating a number of crimes, impacting privacy, property, contracts, and even national security. This chapter argues that it is an imperative to regulate these entities as a preventive measure to avert cyber-crimes and terrorism. Drawing the example from India and adopting the legal approach, this chapter captures the legal developments relating to the regulation of cybercafés in India. It is expected to shed valuable insights for other countries contemplating the institutionalization or proposing changes in their regulatory framework. The chapter concludes that a well-orchestrated policy on cybercafés, taking into account the environmental variables of the particular country, is a pre-requisite for the ICT policy of any country.
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The Need For Regulating The Cybercafes

Though a number of traditional and computer crimes can be committed in the cybercafes, the high number of visitors to the cybercafé and the relative anonymous feature of the cybercafé chambers afford the users an increasing level of opportunities to commit a range of crimes. Some of the common crimes committed in the premises of or facilitated by the cyber-café, as reported by the Indian media are:

  • a.

    Sending anonymous emails to cause annoyance, insult and injury etc, (e.g. misleading information causing unnecessary patrolling at airports etc.,) (New Delhi News, 2007),

  • b.

    Stealing the personal identification details of another user (Akhtar, 2008),

  • c.

    Use of Internet for carrying out any terrorist purposes, such as propaganda and recruitment etc by banned groups (Express News Service, 2009),

  • d.

    Taking advantage of the extra privacy for accessing, viewing pornographic sites etc., (Chada, 2009),

  • e.

    Facilitating intellectual property violations (Kumar, 2009) and

  • f.

    Facilitating the commission of any computer-related crimes (Kumar, 2009).

Key Terms in this Chapter

26/11 Mumbai Attacks: A series of coordinated terrorist attacks across the city of Mumbai, India on 26th November, 2008.

GPRS: It is the abbreviated form for General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). A GPRS-enabled mobile phone uses packet mode technique to transfer data and facilitates the connectivity to the Internet.

Union Territories: Such territories of the Union of India specified in the First Schedule of the Indian Constitution and referred to in Article 1 (3) (b).

Computer Resource: It means computer, communication device, computer system, computer network, data, computer database or software.

Intelligence Bureau: The internal intelligence wing of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

Cognizable Case: According to Section 2(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, cognizable case means a case in which a police officer may in accordance with the First Schedule or under any other law for the time being in force, arrest without warrant.

Central Bureau of Investigation: Police organization established pursuant to Resolution No. 4/31/61/-T, 1st April, 1963 of the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India.

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