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UAE Cyber Law

Posting offensive language or picture on social media will put you in jail.

UAE’s Federal Law No 5 of 2012, also known as the Cyber Crimes law states that individuals can be prosecuted for publishing pictures of individuals without their consent, as well as making offensive statements about them.

Individuals who disrespect Islam and make statements that breach good morals and conduct may also face legal punishment. Individuals can be prosecuted for making statements that are disrespectful towards Islam, morals and good conduct.
These include posting comments or images that ‘encourage sin’, slander another person or breach the privacy of individuals — including taking photographs or publishing information about another without their permission.

According to the UAE’s official Federal Decree Law No (5) on combating cyber crimes, it is illegal to invade someone’s privacy by “photographing others or creating, transferring, disclosing, copying or saving electronic photos [in addition to] publishing news, electronic photos or photographs, scenes, comments, statements or information” without permission.

Making slanderous statements and insulting others can be punishable by imprisonment, a fine, and even deportation.

Members of the public are urged to report any wrongdoing to authorities, and to show the police documented evidence they may have of the crime, without posting the information online.

10 ways social media can land you in jail

Federal Decree-Law No. 5 of 2012 that combats cyber crime lists many violations that are punishable with jail sentences, fines or even deportation. Below are some common instances.

1. Swearing, insulting or accusing another person of a matter for which he can be subject to punishment or be held in contempt by others

Punishment: Imprisonment and a fine of not less than Dh250,000 and not more than Dh500,000 or either of these penalties (Article 20)

2. Invading someone’s privacy by eavesdropping, intercepting, recording, transferring, transmitting or disclosing a conversation, communication, audio or visual material

Punishment: Imprisonment for at least six months and a fine of not less than Dh150,000 and not more than Dh500,000 or either of these penalties (Article 21)

3. Photographing someone, creating, transferring, disclosing, copying or saving electronic photos without permission.

Punishment: Imprisonment for at least six months and a fine of not less than Dh150,000 and not nore than Dh500,000 or either of these penalties (Article 21)

4. Unlawfully publishing news, electronic photos, scenes, comments, statements or information, even if true and correct

Punishment: Imprisonment for at least six months and a fine of not less than Dh150,000 and not more Dh500,000 or either of these penalties (Article 21)

5. Obtaining, possessing, modifying, destroying or disclosing without authorisation data related to medical examinations, diagnosis, treatment, care or medical records

Punishment: Temporary imprisonment (Article 7)

6. Extorting or threatening another person to force him to commit a felony or engage in matters against honour or morals

Punishment: Imprisonment up to 10 years (Article 16)

7. Establishing, managing, running a website or transmitting, publishing or republishing pornographic material or gambling activities

Punishment: Imprisonment and a fine of not less than Dh250,000 and not more than Dh500,000 or either of these penalties (Article 17)

8. Enticing, aiding, abetting another person to engage in prostitution or lewdness

Punishment: Imprisonment and a fine of not less than Dh250,000 and not more than Dh1 million or either of these penalties (Article 19)

9. Disclosing without authorisation confidential information obtained in the course of or because of work

Punishment: Imprisonment for at least six months and a fine not less than Dh500,000 and not more than Dh1 million or either of these penalties (Article 22)

10. Establishing, managing or running a website or publishing information for the interest of a terrorist group or any unauthorised group, association, organisation or body with the intent to facilitate communication with their leaders or members or attract new members or to promote or praise their ideas, finance their activities or provide actual assistance or for the purpose of publishing methods for manufacturing incendiary devices or explosives or any other devices used in terrorism acts

Punishment: Imprisonment of at least five years and a fine not less than Dh1 million and not more than Dh2 million (Article 26)

Article 42 of the cyber law also provides that the court may decide to deport an expat under the various provisions, if necessary.

Anti-Discriminatory Law

The Anti-Discriminatory Law criminalises any acts that stoke religious hatred and/or which insult religion through any form of expression, be it speech or the written word, books, pamphlets or via online media. The law also includes provisions for punishing anyone for terming other religious groups or individuals as infidels, or unbelievers.

Penalties for violation of the various provisions of the law include jail-terms of six months to over 10 years and fines from Dh50,000 to Dh2 million.

The Anti-Discriminatory Law prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, his prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of worship or graveyards. It also has provisions to fight discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of religion, caste, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin.

The law also criminalises any act that amounts to abuse of religion or vandalism of religious rituals, holy sites or symbols, and takes a serious view of violence on the basis of religious doctrines.

The law prohibits any entity or group established specifically to provoke religious hatred and recommends stringent punishments for groups or supporters of any organisations or individuals that are associated with hate crimes. It also bars any kind of events such as conferences and meetings within the UAE organised with the sole purpose of sowing seeds of discrimination, discord or hatred against individuals or groups on the basis of faith, origin or race. Receiving financial support for such activities is also punishable under the new law.
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