2017 has dawned with a spree of bans all over the world. Just recently, the government of Sindh has imposed a ban on all Internet cafes in the province that are operating without any surveillance and recording systems.

The ban has been implemented under Section (144) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It is mandatory that all internet cafes preserve their recordings for a year and also keep a database of their user’s digitized NICs, their cabin numbers as well as the time of usage in the cafe.

The area’s Station House Office (SHO) has been allotted the responsibility to record complaints against cafes violating the law under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 144 Cr. PC.

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A formal notice will be issued by the SHO to set up the prescribed surveillance system with the expiry of 15 days of issuance. No complaint can be lodged against the café operator within that time period.

Negative use of the Internet is also very common at cafes. A lot of them are not registered with the government and operating illegally. Many use basement shops for this purpose while many cafes are decorated like departmental stores outside but computers and cabins are hidden inside. Internet cafes in Lahore are used primarily by men aged from 18 to 30. People, who have completed or are continuing education at the university level, especially students, form the majority of café-goers.

People of middle or low economic classes are regular visitors of such cafes. Entertainment, e-mails and chat are favourite activities at these cafes, followed by browsing the Internet, watching TV or sports and searching for jobs. Only a few users use the Internet for academic and research activities. Law student Hamza Maqsood told Pakistan Today that net cafés’ role in our society is shameful. Nowadays, they have become centers of vulgarity,

 

Farrukh Saeed

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