Heavy Penalties for Social Media Cyber Crimes in UAE – Up to Life Imprisonment and AED 3 Million in Fines

March 16, 2021by Admin0
Cyber crime

Cyber Crimes in UAE

UAE has stringent laws and regulations relating to social media usage and related cyber crimes. Specifically, the Federal Law No 5 for 2012 deals with activities that violates the privacy of individuals, disseminating hate speech and inciting violence, spreading fake information, and threatening the security of State. It covers messages or posts spread by electronic means, through email, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook or any other online platform or information technology tool.

Related Services: General Corporate and Commercial Advisory, UAE Compliance Advisory

Information that is untrue or has the potential to tarnish the integrity or reputation of the nation, or hamper public image is strictly forbidden in the UAE. Individual privacy is also kept at a high pedestal in the cyber laws. The following Articles are of special importance.

  • Article 21 – invading the privacy of a person through electronic means.
  • Article 24 – publishing online content promoting rioting, hatred, racism, sectarianism, or damage to the national unity or social peace or disturbance of the public order and public morals, or running a website that publishes such content.
  • Article 28 – transmission of information, news, or cartoon drawings, caricatures or any other pictures for endangering the national security and the higher interests of the State or to disturb the public order using electronic means, or running a website for the purpose.
  • Article 29 – running a website or publishing information, news, statements, or rumours online, to deride or damage the reputation of the State or its institutions, the President, the Vice President, Rulers of the Emirates, their Crown Princes, Deputy Rulers, National Flag, National Anthem, Emblem of the State or any of its symbols.
  • Article 30 – creating or running a website or publishes information for overthrowing or seizing the system of government, to disrupt or obstruct the Constitution or laws, or to oppose the basic principles which constitute the foundations of the system of government.
  • Article 38 – publishing any incorrect, inaccurate, or misleading information that damages the interests of the State or tarnishes its reputation, prestige, or stature.
  • Article 39 – failure to remove or block access to illicit content after receiving a notice from the federal authorities.

The legislation provides for stringent punishments for the above offences which may extend to imprisonment for life and fines that may go as high as 3 million AED.

Some other activities criminalised under this Decree, when committed through electronic means, include

  • Extortion
  • Transmission of pornographic material
  • Gambling activities
  • Seducing or solicitation for prostitution
  • Insulting others or accusations which lead to punishment or contempt by a third party,
  • Publish information to engage in trafficking in persons or the illegal trade of human organs.

Electronic Media Regulation of 2018

This is another enactment that aims at regulating social media content to create a responsible cyber space, to protect society and prevent violation of privacy of individuals. Certain acts require licensing by the National Media Council and the account holder shall be responsible for the contents posted in such accounts.

Source: https://u.ae/en/resources/laws

About ATB Legal

ATB Legal is a full-service legal consultancy in the UAE providing services in dispute resolution (DIFC Courts, ADGM Courts, mainland litigation management and Arbitrations), corporate and commercial matters, IP, business set up and UAE taxation. We also have a personal law department providing advice on marriage, divorce and wills & estate planning for expats. Please feel free to reach out to us at office@atblegal.com for a non-obligatory initial consultation.

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