No more wireless internet at cafes and airports

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If the government has its way, accessing the internet using wifi hotspots at airports and cafes just might become a thing of the past.  It might happen because of the way "cyber cafes" are defined in the Information Technology Act.  The IT Act defines a cyber café as any facility which as part of its business offers internet access to people. The The government has sought feedback on a draft regulation to govern the working of cyber cafes.   The draft regulation can be found here.  The draft regulations requires every cyber cafe to have a license and give internet access to people after they prove their identity to the satisfaction of the cyber café.  The cyber cafés are required to maintain the logs of users and of websites accessed by users. Cyber cafes are also required to ensure that their service is not utilised by people for any illegal activity or for viewing pornography.  There are requirements on the physical layout of the cyber cafe -- for example, they need to prominently display a board stating that users may not view pornography.

These regulations by their very nature are designed for a traditional cyber café where people use computer terminals provided by the cyber café owner and access the internet.  But because of the waycyber café is defined in the Act, most public wifi hotspots would be called a cyber café and thereby be regulated by the cyber café guidelines.  So the local café which provides wireless access to its patrons would have to get a licence and follow other cyber café guidelines.  Since the draft guidelines place enough legal responsibility on a cyber café that many café and other public places which offer wireless internet would rethink their strategy of providing this service. You can send in your feedback to the draft guidelines by the 28th of February to grai@mit.gov.in