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Internet Cafe

ORLANDO, Fla. -

The Illegal Gaming Task force served search warrants in five Florida counties Thursday.

The warrants targeted Internet cafés owned by Ian Vega of Lake Mary and Peter Miller of Neptune Beach, and are part of a crackdown on illegal gambling center operators.

Vega was previously arrested and on charges relating to keeping a gambling house.

“These warrants are a key step in investigating organizations claiming to be ‘Internet cafés’ but actually conducting illegal gaming. My Office of Statewide Prosecution will continue to collaborate with law enforcement on these cases,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a release.

The warrants were executed in Brevard, Columbia, Duval, Lake and Marion counties, where computers, banking records, employee rosters and money related to illegal activity were seized.

“These warrants will likely lead to the arrests of key figures within these organizations for racketeering and money laundering,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said in a release. “This is a warning to other so-called internet café operators. If you operate outside the law, you are a target.”

In Lake County, warrants were enforced at the following establishments: Hill Top Sweepstakes, Lucky Joes Sweepstakes, Lucky Stars Sweepstakes, the Grand and Internet Café.

In Marion County, warrants were enforced at Senior and Senior Café.
In Brevard County, warrants were issued at Lucky’s Internet Café — Rockledge, United American Apparels in Merritt Island, Melbourne, West Melbourne and Rockledge, Mag 7, Coconuts Internet Café, Lucky Shamrock Arcade and Pirates Too.

Two of the cafes shut down in Seminole County were under the name Ivan Vega, and the third is listed as “Warehouse.”

The task force is comprised of FDLE Agents, Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger, Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson and the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Local law enforcement agencies also served warrants in their jurisdictions, and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office arrested five Internet café site managers as part of the operation.

Last year, state investigators raided a group of internet cafes run by the group called "Allied Veterans of the World." Their attorney was recently sentenced to six years in prison for being the mastermind behind the illegal gambling operation.

The sate legislature passed a new law in 2013 that banned the sweepstakes played at the facilities.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Recently, when Florida Department of Law Enforcement cracked down on area internet cafes, two former employees were watching.

Anthony Jackson and Jeremiah Kiser were employed at the Sweet Royale Cafe; it has a location on Normandy Boulevard and one in Gainesville.

"We were very busy," said Jackson.

The Gainesville location was closed last December and the employees moved to the Normandy facility in March.

"I managed Gainesville for a month," said Jackson.

"I was there as the assistant manager," Kiser added.

Jackson said the primary goal of his Gainesville store was selling phone cards, but they also ran a gambling-type operation.

"The actual amount that we could pay out was $500," said Jackson, "We would never pay more than that."

The former workers also made claims that the computers used by customers were being manipulated from another location and it affected their odds of winning.

"All of a sudden these people stopped winning like they were winning before," said Jackson.

Both men said they are coming forth because of the recent FDLE crackdown and because their former employer owes them.

They also said they're afraid that they will be implicated in a dispute between the cafe owner and a marketing company that sold the business several computers.

"He was actually trying to sell someone else property and involved me in it," said Jackson.

The cafe is owned by Fasial Kahn. Reached at his Canadian electronic business, Khan described Jackson and Kiser as disgruntled employees who were fired.

He said they are telling lies, trying to hurt his business and his character.

"I owe them nothing," said Kahn,"I paid them everything I owed."

Khan said they are not involved in the computer issue and besides that has been resolved.

"I have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Kahn, "I have nothing to hide."

A call to Pong Marketing in Ontario confirmed that the computer issue has been resolved and it was a miscommunication.

Even so, Jackson and Kiser vow to take their knowledge to area law enforcement; they believe as former inside men they have information investigators can use.

Article source: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/local/consumer/on-your-side/2014/04/14/former-internet-cafe-workers-claim-employer-owes-them/7717239/

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CLEVELAND (AP) - Cleveland schools are slated to receive hundreds of computers that authorities seized from Internet cafes where they were used for poker or slots-style games.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Investigative Unit plans to donate about 600 computers if the school board gives approval later this month, The Plain Dealer (http://bit.ly/1lOk8lz) reported.

The casino programs and operating systems have been removed from the machines, which will need software installed before they can be used. The computers were offered to the city school district because its technical department is large enough to handle them, said Greg Croft, agent-in-charge of the investigative unit in Cleveland.

They were taken in an investigation of nine Cuyahoga County internet cafes and their software provider, which pleaded guilty to a gambling-related charge, paid a fine and agreed not to do business in Ohio, the newspaper said.

Ohio cracked down on such businesses with a new law last year.

District officials said they won’t accept old computers but that the seized machines are new enough to be of use in classrooms.

The computers were taken from Internet cafes in Cleveland, Cuyahoga Heights, East Cleveland, Euclid, Maple Heights, Parma Heights and Westlake.

Ohio had hundreds of those businesses when it cracked down on them with a new law last year that effectively bans storefront sweepstakes parlors. The law restricted payouts at Internet cafes, which law enforcement officials argued had harbored illegal gambling operations.

Internet cafe operators argued that they had legitimate businesses.

___

Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Illegal Gaming Task Force served more than a dozen search warrants Thursday in five Florida counties, including Duval, targeting Internet cafes owned by Pete Miller, of Neptune Beach, and Ivan Vega, of Lake Mary.

Seven Internet cafes in Jacksonville were raided -- the most of any county in the state -- Pete's Retreat locations on Blanding Boulevard, Normandy Boulevard, 103rd Street, North Main Street, Beach Boulevard, along with Gold Mine on Lem Turner Road and Winners Sweepstakes on Mayport Road.

These are businesses that opened up after a statewide crackdown last spring of 49 Allied Veterans of the World locations across the state. A total of 57 people were arrested on racketeering, gambling and money laundering charges. The Jacksonville lawyer prosecutors called the mastermind of the scheme -- Kelly Mathis -- was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.

"I was a little shocked that these guys weren't even trying to pretend," said statewide prosecutor Nick Cox on Thursday. "Pete Miller... said in an article, 'We're doing this for profit.'"

DOCUMENT: Internet cafe search warrant locations

Dozens of other people arrested have pleaded guilty to lesser charges, some cases are still pending -- including those against Jacksonville police officers Nelson Cuba and Robert Freitas.

Later last year, the Legislature passed a law making the video gaming going on at Internet cafes illegal.

The Gold Mine on Lem Turner Road near Edgewood Avenue on the Northside is just one of the businesses where state law enforcement agents seized evidence and closed it Thursday.

Robin Rukab, who owns a business on Timuquana Road that is now closed, said Thursday, "We're operating within the law." She said Miller and others would want to respond to the FDLE sometime soon.

"I've often said that the way the state has identified what they consider is illegal, I don't know that any type of sweepstakes can be run in the state of Florida without it being considered illegal," criminal defense attorney Mitch Stone said. "From law enforcement's perspective, to determine if it's illegal gambling, there would have to be an analysis of the software to determine what the software is doing."

However, investigators said the warrants represent a continuing crackdown on the operators of illegal gambling centers around Florida known as Internet cafes. Along with Thursday's operation, Vega was also arrested on a warrant from an earlier investigation conducted by State Attorney Willie Meggs in Tallahassee.

Vega was charged with keeping a gambling house, manufacture, sale, possession of coin operated devices, lottery, and plays at games of chance.

"These warrants are a key step in investigating organizations claiming to be 'Internet cafes' but actually conducting illegal gaming," Attorney General Pam Bondi said. "My Office of Statewide Prosecution will continue to collaborate with law enforcement on these cases."

Search warrants were executed in Duval, Columbia, Marion, Brevard and Lake counties. During the execution of warrants, Gaming Task Force investigators seized computers, cash related to the illegal activity, banking records and employee rosters, according to FDLE.

"These warrants will likely lead to the arrests of key figures within these organizations for racketeering and money laundering," said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. "This is a warning to other so-called Internet cafe operators. If you operate outside the law, you are a target."

Members of the Illegal Gaming Task Force include FDLE Agents, Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger, Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson and the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

"This Task Force is sending a message to Internet cafe operators who operate outside of the law. We are going to continue to enforce the laws of the state and you will be held accountable," said Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger.

"This is a statewide issue that demands a strong, unified law enforcement response. And that's exactly what this task force is delivering," said Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson. "Businesses in Florida have been given ample warnings that Internet cafes are illegal. The take-away from today's actions is that we're simply not going to put up with businesses that continue to defy the laws of this state."

In addition to warrants served by the Illegal Gaming Task Force, local law enforcement agencies served additional warrants in their jurisdictions Thursday, including Lake and Brevard County sheriff's offices and Rockledge, Palm Bay and West Melbourne police departments, and in Monroe County by State Attorney Catherine Vogel.

State Attorneys Brad King, Phil Archer and Meggs are assisting in the investigations along with the Columbia and Marion County sheriff's offices. The Brevard County Sheriff's Office arrested five Internet cafe site managers as part of the operation.

WOULD THEN DECIDE IF ANY CHARGES NEED TO BE FILED. LOCAL INTERNET CAFES REMAIN CLOSED IN THE AFTERMATH OF LAST WEEK'S GAMBLING RAIDS BY STATE AGENTS. OWNERS WE SPOKE WITH SAY THEY'RE LOOKING AT THEIR OPTIONS TO REOPEN BUT SO FAR THEY'RE BASICALLY OUT OF BUSINESS. JIM PIGGOTT HAS BEEN FOLLOWING THE STORY SINCE THE FIRST STATE CRACKDOWN LAST YEAR AND HAS AN UPDATE. SO UP HERE AT PETE'S RETREAT, OF COURSE, THE DOORS ARE STILL LOCKED AND THIS IS STILL CLOSED. I DID TALK TO PETE MILLER'S ATTORNEY TODAY WHO ARE SAYING, OF COURSE, THEY ARE FIGHTING THIS. THEY BELIEVED THEY WERE OPERATING LEGALLY. BUT IN TALKING WITH STATE OFFICIALS TODAY, THEY SAY NO WAY, THOUGH THERE WAS CONFUSION DURING THE SUMMER, THEY NOW SAY THESE SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN ALLOWED TO OPEN. WHEN THE STATE STEPPED IN AND RAIDED THE CAFES, INVESTIGATORS MADE IT CLEAR, THEY'RE ILLEGAL. THE LETTERS OF CEASE AND DESIST WERE ALSO GIVEN TO THE ESTABLISHMENTS, WHICH SAYS YOUR BUSINESS IS IN VIOLATION OF NUMEROUS FLORIDA STATUTES, INVOLVING GAMBLING AND GAMING VIOLATIONS. LAST SUMMER I ASKED THE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CAFES, WHY THEY WERE ALLOWED TO OPERATE. EACH AGENCY AT FIRST TOLD US IT WAS THE OTHER'S RESPONSIBILITY. LATER THEY ALL SAID IT WAS UP TO THE SHERIFF. SO HERE'S WHAT SHERIFF RUTHERFORD TOLD US IN JANUARY. YOU CAN'T GO IN RIGHT NOW AND SHUT 'EM DOWN? I CAN'T. BECAUSE I CAN'T MAKE A CASE. AND THAT'S WHY THE STATE ATTORNEYS ALL OVER THE STATE ARE NOT PROSECUTING. HE LATER TOLD THE STATE SENATOR JOHN THRASHER AND HIS OFFICE CONFIRMED TO US THAT HE THOUGHT THEY WERE OPERATING LEGALLY. TODAY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE SAID THAT WAS CONFUSING. BUT THE GOAL NOW IS TO CLOSE THESE OPERATIONS. WE ASKED THE ATTORNEY REPRESENTING PETE MILLER OF PETE'S CYBER CAFE ABOUT THAT. THERE WAS A LOT OF CONFUSION LAST SUMMER WHEN THEY OPENED IT. WHO CAN OPEN AND WHO CANNOT, WHO'S REGULATING THESE AND WHO AREN'T. IS THAT STILL AN ISSUE? ABSOLUTELY AN ISSUE. WE HAVE AN ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION FROM NOT TOO LONG AGO WHO SAID IT'S A MATTER OF LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT. WE HAVE LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT, MEANING OUR SHERIFF'S OFFICE, WHO INVESTIGATED, LOOKED AT IT, AND SAID IT APPEARS TO BE LEGAL, AND WE HAVE LOCAL POLITICIANS, ONCE AGAIN, AS HIGH AS THE FLORIDA STATE SENATE SAYING EVERYTHING APPEARS TO BE LEGITIMATE AND LEGAL. PETE MILLER HAS BEEN VERY VOCAL IN THE PAST ABOUT HIS OPERATION. IN FACT, HERE'S WHAT HE TOLD US WHEN THEY FIRST OPENED LAST JULY WHEN I ASKED HIM ABOUT OPERATING LEGALLY. WE TALKED TO SEVERAL ATTORNEYS. WE TALKED TO WHOEVER WE COULD SPEAK TO ON AN OFFICIAL LEVEL BUT THEY DON'T WANT TO GET INVOLVED. SO NOBODY'S COME IN AND INSPECTED THIS YET? NO, THEY WON'T DO IT. THEY WON'T DO IT. WE WERE TOLD IF WE OPENED THAT WE WERE AT OUR OWN RISK. SO EXPECT TO SEE SOME MORE CHARGES, POSSIBLY COMING, MAKE EVEN ARRESTS IN THIS CASE AS

Article source: http://www.news4jax.com/news/Regulating-internet-cafes/25384084

ORLANDO, Fla. -

The Illegal Gaming Task force served search warrants in five Florida counties Thursday.

The warrants targeted Internet cafés owned by Ian Vega of Lake Mary and Peter Miller of Neptune Beach, and are part of a crackdown on illegal gambling center operators.

Vega was previously arrested and on charges relating to keeping a gambling house.

“These warrants are a key step in investigating organizations claiming to be ‘Internet cafés’ but actually conducting illegal gaming. My Office of Statewide Prosecution will continue to collaborate with law enforcement on these cases,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a release.

The warrants were executed in Brevard, Columbia, Duval, Lake and Marion counties, where computers, banking records, employee rosters and money related to illegal activity were seized.

“These warrants will likely lead to the arrests of key figures within these organizations for racketeering and money laundering,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said in a release. “This is a warning to other so-called internet café operators. If you operate outside the law, you are a target.”

In Lake County, warrants were enforced at the following establishments: Hill Top Sweepstakes, Lucky Joes Sweepstakes, Lucky Stars Sweepstakes, the Grand and Internet Café.

In Marion County, warrants were enforced at Senior and Senior Café.
In Brevard County, warrants were issued at Lucky’s Internet Café — Rockledge, United American Apparels in Merritt Island, Melbourne, West Melbourne and Rockledge, Mag 7, Coconuts Internet Café, Lucky Shamrock Arcade and Pirates Too.

Two of the cafes shut down in Seminole County were under the name Ivan Vega, and the third is listed as “Warehouse.”

The task force is comprised of FDLE Agents, Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger, Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson and the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Local law enforcement agencies also served warrants in their jurisdictions, and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office arrested five Internet café site managers as part of the operation.

Last year, state investigators raided a group of internet cafes run by the group called "Allied Veterans of the World." Their attorney was recently sentenced to six years in prison for being the mastermind behind the illegal gambling operation.

The sate legislature passed a new law in 2013 that banned the sweepstakes played at the facilities.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Jacksonville is drawing fire from a special task force aimed at enforcing anti-gambling laws in the state, and many of the Internet cafes around town are now closed.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Thursday announced raids on businesses in five counties.

A local lawmaker says he believes FDLE did the right thing.

"There was a perception there wouldn't be enforcement in Jacksonville," said Nicholas Cox, statewide prosecutor for the Illegal Gaming Task Force. "I don't know how, but I completely disagree with it, because it's illegal, and we're going to enforce state law."

Vegas Fun Zone on Blanding at Wilson boulevards claims it's been open for 10 years in the community, but it has taken the precaution of closing to ask for legal help.

"Jacksonville, as I've learned, there's more in Jacksonville than anywhere else," Cox said. "So a lot of what we've done today is focused on Jacksonville."

Cox and his task force of state law enforcement announced enforcement actions taken against two primary suspects, one with a Neptune Beach address -- Pete Miller.

Miller has spoken in the past, claiming his cybercafes operate within the law.

That's not what investigators believe.

"It's Internet time," Cox said. "There's even a new way of selling a pair of jeans, $19 jeans for $150. It's a sham product, regardless how they're doing it now. It's still a sham product."

Pete's Retreat 6 is one of Miller's storefronts owned in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas. It's closed because of FDLE investigation and raids Thursday.

Now people in similar businesses said they're frustrated and concerned, and many have closed voluntarily, wanting to make sure they're not subject to similar raids.

"You'd have thought after last year these people would realize somebody's going to check on you sooner or later, and they'll find out if the games are skill or chance," said State Sen. John Thrasher, who helped rewrite the rules on gaming last year.

As for the business owners who have concerns, "They'll have the right to defend and make their case on that. But again, I think these folks have tried to skirt the law," Thrasher said. "That's first and foremost. They tried to get right on the edge of it, thinking they're on the side they could operate legally. But truth be told, I don't think you can skirt the law when it comes to these kinds of games. Either they're games of chance or games of skill."

While the Legislature changed some rules concerning Internet cafes and video gaming last year, the leader of the task force says what it has uncovered in the Pete's Retreat locations would have been illegal before and after those changes.

In February, Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford said he did not think local Internet cafes were operating illegally.

In a phone interview Friday, Rutherford clarified that, saying, "What I said was, I'm not going to talk about an active investigation, but if we find one, if they're illegal, we shut them down. We're not going to tell them they're operating legally. That's not my job. My job is putting them in jail if they're operating illegally."

Thrasher believes the task force probably sent undercover investigators into the cafes to determine if the games were of skill or chance.

Thrasher said more than once that shutting down the cafes in violation was the right thing to do.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Jacksonville is drawing fire from a special task force aimed at enforcing anti-gambling laws in the state, and many of the Internet cafes around town are now closed.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Thursday announced raids on businesses in five counties.

A local lawmaker says he believes FDLE did the right thing.

"There was a perception there wouldn't be enforcement in Jacksonville," said Nicholas Cox, statewide prosecutor for the Illegal Gaming Task Force. "I don't know how, but I completely disagree with it, because it's illegal, and we're going to enforce state law."

Vegas Fun Zone on Blanding at Wilson boulevards claims it's been open for 10 years in the community, but it has taken the precaution of closing to ask for legal help.

"Jacksonville, as I've learned, there's more in Jacksonville than anywhere else," Cox said. "So a lot of what we've done today is focused on Jacksonville."

Cox and his task force of state law enforcement announced enforcement actions taken against two primary suspects, one with a Neptune Beach address -- Pete Miller.

Miller has spoken in the past, claiming his cybercafes operate within the law.

That's not what investigators believe.

"It's Internet time," Cox said. "There's even a new way of selling a pair of jeans, $19 jeans for $150. It's a sham product, regardless how they're doing it now. It's still a sham product."

Pete's Retreat 6 is one of Miller's storefronts owned in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas. It's closed because of FDLE investigation and raids Thursday.

Now people in similar businesses said they're frustrated and concerned, and many have closed voluntarily, wanting to make sure they're not subject to similar raids.

"You'd have thought after last year these people would realize somebody's going to check on you sooner or later, and they'll find out if the games are skill or chance," said State Sen. John Thrasher, who helped rewrite the rules on gaming last year.

As for the business owners who have concerns, "They'll have the right to defend and make their case on that. But again, I think these folks have tried to skirt the law," Thrasher said. "That's first and foremost. They tried to get right on the edge of it, thinking they're on the side they could operate legally. But truth be told, I don't think you can skirt the law when it comes to these kinds of games. Either they're games of chance or games of skill."

While the Legislature changed some rules concerning Internet cafes and video gaming last year, the leader of the task force says what it has uncovered in the Pete's Retreat locations would have been illegal before and after those changes.

In February, Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford said he did not think local Internet cafes were operating illegally.

In a phone interview Friday, Rutherford clarified that, saying, "What I said was, I'm not going to talk about an active investigation, but if we find one, if they're illegal, we shut them down. We're not going to tell them they're operating legally. That's not my job. My job is putting them in jail if they're operating illegally."

Thrasher believes the task force probably sent undercover investigators into the cafes to determine if the games were of skill or chance.

Thrasher said more than once that shutting down the cafes in violation was the right thing to do.

Forty-year-old Yahia Al-Fatini is originally from Hodeida governorate. He was a fisherman until 2010, when he decided to embark on a new career path.  He borrowed some money, sold his wife’s gold, moved with his family to Sana’a and opened up his new project in the capital - an internet café.

After a lot of research and some deliberation, he was confident that his new venture would pay off. At first, he earned a decent income of around YR140,000 ($653) per month. However, after the 2011 uprising and the rapid deterioration in Yemen’s economy, his business took a turn for the worse and he ended up closing his internet café.

“The internet café was my source of income. It was my last resort after I stopped fishing. While fishing, I was not earning enough income due the scarcity of fish off Hodeida’s coast,” said Al-Fatini.

Attacks on electricity infrastructure increased following the uprising of 2011, at a time when the government was hamstrung and incapable of clamping down on saboteurs.  

Mohammed Al-Absi, a journalist who has written extensively on electricity issues, said that after the 2011 uprising it was not uncommon to hear of power outages lasting over ten hours in many parts of the country, due to attacks on electricity lines. These attacks continue to happen, added Al-Absi.

The hours-long blackouts had a profound impact on Al-Fatini’s business. He bought a generator to cope with the electricity shortage, and that helped him through most of 2012. But then the fuel crisis broke out and the generator broke down, adding to Al-Fatini’s problems.

Saboteurs targeted oil pipelines in Marib, while roadblocks by disgruntled locals hampered the movement of fuel trucks. Amidst economic uncertainty, Al-Fatini shut up shop and returned to Hodeida. “I sold the computers to one of my friends in Sana’a. The income was insufficient due to the repeated attacks on electricity lines,” said Al-Fatini.

Al-Fatini returned to his job as a fisherman. He says he will not re-open an internet café unless the power situation is rectified.

The main power station and electricity infrastructure in Marib governorate sustained over 400 attacks and acts of sabotage from 2010 until June of last year, according to Al-Absi. He said that the power plant in Marib is a major electricity supplier to the rest of the country, with the capacity to generate 400 megawatts.

Majed Al-Bashiri, a supervisor at the Hizaiz substation in Sana’a, which generates 40 megawatts, said there are several substations in Sana’a which together contribute 146 megawatts, but these stations only generate half of the capital city’s electricity requirements. The six major power plants across the country are only operating at 70 percent capacity at best due to technical difficulties and attacks, added Al-Bashiri.  

Mohammed Hizam Al-Monsi, age 24, worked in an internet café from 2009 until 2011. The owner of the internet café paid himYR60,000 per month, he said.  

“I used to study and work at the same time. In 2011, I was in my last year at college. But the internet café’s owner shut the café down because the income at the time was not enough. Shortage of electricity was the reason, in addition to the oil price hikes afterwards.”

Prior to the 2011 uprising, 20 liters of diesel cost about YR1,000, while the same amount of petrol was priced at YR1,500. After the uprising began, as political instability increased and the security situation worsened, the price of fuel skyrocketed, increasing threefold. In April 2012, the coalition government issued a decree setting the price of 20 liters of petrol at YR2,500 and diesel at YR2,000.

Al-Mosni said he stopped his studies after his employer shut the Internet café. Now he sells qat instead.

Mohammed Al-Murshdi, the deputy head of the statistics department at the Ministry of Telecommunications, said that there were 800 internet cafes in Sana’a in 2010. However, that number had halved by the end of 2013, he added.  

Despite now having fewer competitors, those who have managed to keep their internet cafés going face an uphill struggle. Others, like Mused Al-Ameri, 31, have converted their internet cafés into other businesses. Al-Ameri said he opened an Internet café in 2010, ran it until 2012, and then transformed it into a restaurant offering sandwiches and juice. “I used to generate YR200,000 a month. However, my income decreased to YR50,000. Accordingly, I decided to shut my internet café, replacing it with a cafeteria. At a time when the electricity is deteriorating, the cafeteria is better,” said Al-Ameri.

The lack of electricity and high costs of fuel add to an already dire economic situation. Potential customers are keeping an ever more watchful eye on their finances and are cutting back on the time they spend in internet cafés. Increasing numbers of people also have the option of accessing the internet more affordably from home. Yahia Ismael, 44, said that people stopped coming to his internet café and he was forced to close it down in late 2013, in large part because “wireless appliances… have become commonplace in Yemen since 2010.”

Some internet café owners have been better placed to hold out against the economic odds. Ahmed Derhm, an internet café owner in Sana’a, said he opened his café in 2012 and still manages to stay open for business. “It is true there are repeated power cuts, and this affects my work,” said Derhm, but added that, because of the location of his café and the fact that there are no competitors nearby, his business has survived.

Mohammed Al-Mikhlafi, the deputy head of the planning department at the Ministry of Electricity, said that the Yemeni government prepared the National Energy Strategy, funded by the German government, which aims to establish several new power plants including a 1,300 megawatt power station in the Maba’r district of Dhamar governorate. The plan also envisions two plants in Marib with a combined power output of 770 megawatts, said Al-Mikhlafi. “If all these station come [online as planned], they will provide all the governorates with electricity and there will be no power cuts,” he added.

But given the instability plaguing the country, the plan seems like a very far off prospect. At present, says Al-Mikhlafi, all the power stations in Yemen do not even generate half of Yemen’s electricity needs, in large part because of sabotage.

MOSCOW: Uzbekistan has brought in new regulations to increase surveillance of Internet cafes in the latest tightening of the country’s strict rules governing access to the web, local media reported.

 

Internet cafes will now be legally obliged to install video cameras and keep log files of visitors for three months in a bid to prevent any “negative” impact from public access points, the reports said.

 

Uzbekistan’s communications regulator also banned Internet cafes from being located in the basements of buildings, or any other rooms below the ground. The move further solidifies the government’s control over the media in a country that is often criticised for tightly controlling society and tolerating no dissent.

 

“In addition to existing responsibilities, Internet providers have to provide security of visitors using CCTV cameras, as well as to organise the account of used web Internet resources (log-files) and save them for 3 months,” the norma.uz website said.

 

Article source: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-1-241579-Uzbekistan-tightens-Internet-cafe-scrutiny