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How India’s Draft Cybercafe Rules Could Strangle Public Internet Access

Note: A significant development since this post: Indian Government Blocks Typepad, Mobango, Clickatell As a part of the rules being finalized to supplement India's Information Technology Amendment Act 2008, which, lest we forget, was hurriedly passed without debate in Parliament, a draft set of rules governing Cybercafes in India has been outlined. Our take on these rules are not consumer friendly, tedious to follow for businesses, and if enforced will end of choking public access Internet in the country, whether through Cybercafes or at Wifi hotspots, which would cover all regular cafes that offer Internet access, the airport, where some telcos allow access, or even on-campus connectivity. The last date for submission of comments to these rules is tomorrow, the 28th of February. Please mail your comments to grai AT mit.gov.in. Download the rules here. Update: Chakshu Roy of PRS Legislative has written about the issues here) Here's what we think the impact of the rules will be (correct us if you think you have a different interpretation): - Definition of Cybercafe: According to the IT Act, "Cyber Cafe means any facility from where access to the Internet is offered by any person on the ordinary course of business to the members of the public," and this is where a large part of the problem lies. By saying that the rules are applicable to any facility, it could refer to all WiFi hotspots, whether run by Aircel, Tata Indicom, or even small cafes and restaurants that want to offer patrons free…

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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