ID requirement in Cyber Cafe – will it work?

cyber-cafe Nepal government has instructed Cyber Cafes in Nepal to check personal identification of every customer before they are allowed to surf the internet. This new requirement is the latest in a series of ‘desperate’ steps taken by the government to control ‘cyber crime’.

It is not a bad idea to keep a log of everybody who uses internet in a public place. That would certainly help investigators to track criminals. A law-abiding citizen wouldn’t mind a little hassle of showing his IDs in Cyber Cafe.

But, the big questions are – will it be implemented properly ? Is there a proper monitoring body, effective enough to monitor the requirement ?

And, past experience shows immatureness in decision taking. They have taken decision in hurry and later realize the decision can’t be implemented at all.

When playing parent to the citizen was not as easy as they thought, the government tried blocking VOIP sites. The very next day of VOIP ban, Google Talk came as a nasty surprise to the government agencies. Google’s GTalk allows free phone services to the US and Canada. In a lighter note, I wondered if the government will block access to temples with ‘explicit’ carvings. While considering this history, I suspect the government agency has a well planned task force to implement the new directive.

Some of the major problems with this new directive are:

  1. Only a few cyber cafes are registered. The government can’t force everybody to register. Some of such cafes are using a residential lines and offer the service for price. They don’t have the resources and interest in registering it to the government.
  2. The Nepal Telecom Authority has directed the ISP to implement the rule. Why would ISP do the government’s job? Do they have the resources to keep logs and update it regularly? Will the government pay for the extra resources required to do it? I don’t think they will. And I don’t think ISPs can do the extra work to limit their business.
  3. The ISPs don’t care about crime. All they care is business. If they create restriction in cyber cafe, their business will suffer. They won’t hammer their own feet!
  4. The main part of the whole story is missing. The start – the ISPs will direct cyber cafes to monitor their customer. The end – the police will use the log to identify criminals. The middle part – it is not clear!
    Start and end are clear enough but, every customer is not a criminal. And, the criminals will try to use fake identification. How can a cyber operator identify fake or genuine ID?
  5. While reading the Nagariknew’s news, it is clear that the government agency wants to play parent desperately. So, I am not that positive on the outcome. 

Let’s hope this new rule is well thought of and will be implemented effectively.

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