A proof of identity may soon be a must for joining a matrimonial website with the government working on guidelines to regulate online matchmaking market as complaints of fake profiles, cyber stalking and cheating rise.
The government on Tuesday set up a five member inter-ministerial panel to draft the guidelines that would have to be submitted within a fortnight to the department of electronics and information technology (DeitY), sources said.
A passport or a voter identity card, or any such proof held valid by the government, may have to be submitted, sources said.
According to industry insiders, the online matchmaking market, which is unregulated, is valued at least ` 400 crore with at least 18-20 big players.
Bharatmatrimony is the biggest of them all with 1.4 million profiles followed by shaadi.com that claims to have 1.2 million users.
These sites, said source, would have to also strengthen their grievance redressal mechanism and address complaints in a timebound manner.
“Once approved, the guidelines would be notified by the IT ministry under the IT act,” said a senior women and child development (WCD) ministry official. DeitY works under the IT ministry.
India has around 375 million internet users, the third largest in the world. By December, India would overtake the US to have the world’s second largest user base of 402 million, Internet and Mobile Association of India said in a statement.
Bulk of the internet users are young, many of whom go online in search of a partner. Parents, too, are increasingly relying on the web to find a suitable match for their children.
The guidelines, officials said, would be similar to the ones framed in 2011 to regulate cyber cafes that are prohibited from giving access to users without a proof of identity. Enforcement of these guidelines, however, remains erratic.
While appreciating the need for a more robust architecture to check fraud, websites are apprehensive that stringent norms could hit business. “Regulation is welcome but it should be inclusive. Any regulation framed should not be discriminatory that drives away people from registering at such sites,” said Nilanjan Roy of SimplyMarry.com who attended Tuesday’s meeting.
Swamped by complaints of cheating from women, WCD minister Maneka Gandhi had last year called for tighter checks.