Sunday, March 06, 2005

ID required to log in at Indian cybercafes

According to an article circulated by the Associated Press, a new "rule" (its legal basis is unclear from the article) has been put in place requring that the identity of individuals be confirmed before they are allowed to log on at Internet cafes in India.

CANOE -- CNEWS - Tech News: Internet Cybercafe privacy in India questioned:

"... Police in Bangalore sent hundreds of letters in the past month asking cybercafes to keep records of visitors in case police want to investigate virus attacks, online fraud and terrorism. Under the rule, a visitor must produce a photo identity card before beginning to browse. Login and log-out times will also be noted..."

I have dealt with this issue in advising libraries here in Canada. Because the public internet terminals are in high demand, most libraries use a sign up sheet so that people can book time on the computers. I don't know of any that ask for government-issued ID in this process, though some do use patrons' library cards for this purpose. Often, police ask to look at the sign up sheets, presumably to investigate offences like those listed above. Public libraries in many Canadian provinces fall outside the purview of privacy laws, but librarians as a group are generally sensitive to privacy issues and are hesitant to be proxies for law enforcement.

Like any sort of log, if you retain it, it can be compelled under a subpoena or using a warrant. As a result, some libraries have opted to not keep their logs, some shred them at the end of the day and others have limited what information they ask for on these sheets.

No comments: