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Restricting access to cyber cafes could hamper the growth of internet in India: Kiran Karnik
31 August, 2009

by Satrajit Sen


Cyber cafes are the epicentre of internet penetration in India and imposing restrictions on them could hamper the growth of internet user base in the country, according to Kiran Karnik, president, India Habitat Centre.

“Young girls have stopped coming to cyber cafes as they do not want to provide their addresses and phone numbers on the registrar of the cyber cafe. Moreover, in Indian culture, there are many things that cannot be done in a house PC in front of the family and hence one would like to go to cyber cafes,” Kiran Karnik said.

According to Karnik, many cyber cafes have been asked to restrict the usage of internet chats and similar features, and this move could hamper the growth of internet in India as youths are yet not very comfortable to chat with friends of the opposite genders in presence of their parents and family.

“Now, restricting such services in internet cafes would mean suicidal for the growth of internet penetration in the country,” Karnik said while speaking at a Workshop on Internet Governance and Inclusive Growth organised on August 21, 2009 in New Delhi by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Department of Information and Technology, Government of India.

Speaking at the workshop, Rajesh Charria, president, Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), complained that whenever something happens, the blame comes on the ISPs, which is not always correct.

Citing recent amendments to the Indian IT Act, Ajit Balakrishnan, founder and chief executive officer, Rediff.com, said that it is illegal for the local police to ask cyber cafes to list their customers. Let’s hope this makes the life of cyber cafes operators a little less challenging and help the growth of internet usage in India.
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