The Indian government is planning to introduce a set of guidelines to ensure that the country’s matrimonial websites aren’t “misused” for anything other than the intent of marriage, and especially not used as dating platforms.
The government has approved an advisory which will ask matrimonial websites to authenticate its users through legally verifiable identity and address proofs, and keep their IP address records. The new rules will require these matrimonial websites to “confirm the user’s intent to enter in to matrimonial alliance” and that “the user information is correct”.
“We have approved the standards to check cheating on such websites,” India’s minister for communications and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
The idea for regulating matrimonial websites was proposed last year, amidst complaints of cyber stalking, fake profiles and cheating. However, the regulations are also espousing greater control over the “intent” of each user joining the website. The advisory states that “service providers should make a declaration that (a) website is strictly for matrimonial purpose only and not a dating website and should not be used for posting obscene material.”
India has a booming network of an estimated 1,500 matrimonial websites, which predates dating apps like Tinder. Their worth is expected to grow in Rs 15 billion ($228 million) by 2017. Like online dating platforms, these websites use data like age, location and profession to match users, but include traditional factors like caste and religion, which are vital to arranged marriages in India.
The two biggest matrimonial websites, Bharat Matrimony and Shaadi, have a combined 2.6 million users. Their growth is fuelled by India’s large Internet user base and its overwhelmingly young population (65% of Indians are under the age of 35). The number of online users in India was projected to hit 402 million by December 2015, with many of them being young.