India’s Net Cafe Owners Wary of Curbing Cyber Porn

Kat Khan
SOLAPUR, India — After India’s State Home Minister, Siddhram Mhetre, recently assured the upper House of initiating steps to curb pornography in the country’s Internet cafes, owners have formed the Net Owners and Users Organization (NOUO) to cope with the possible threat of harassment from the police.

The organization will umbrella thousands of net users. Milind Kadam, NOUO’s newly elected president, last week said the organization has made it necessary for customers to provide their identification and detailed information using a registration form.

“Initially customers may raise objections to the new procedure, but as we have made it compulsory at all net cafes, customers will soon get used to it,” Kadam said. “The new system has been introduced to prove that we are not responsible if a customer opens pornography sites.”

The new rules will help keep tabs on users viewing pornography, as well as keep the owners of net cafes “on the right side of the law,” Kadam said.

“The cases of cyber crime have mushroomed at various levels and the net cafe owners don’t want to risk getting harassed by the sleuths,’’ he added.

Ashutosh Nirgundh, NOUO’s general secretary, said the organization also has turned to police Commissioner Jagan Nath for help in maintaining the business of net cafes, which are mainly run by unemployed youths, in order to avoid police raids.

“In the past, the police raided our net cafes through no fault of ours and filed cases against us,” Nirgundh said.

But Nath said raids will not be conducted unless the police receive a complaint from an Indian citizen. He also added that net cafe owners will not be targeted for Internet content viewed by a user.

“Net cafe owners should be careful and alert,” Nath said. “They should take precautions while users surf the net. The police will register a case against the user if found guilty, but the owners will not be held responsible for that.”