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United Arab Emirates authorities have come up with a new cyber law which will prevent social media users from posting individual photos online without their consent. A violation of the law may lead the user straight to jail. The new cyber law could also mean that any criticism to the rulers of the country or any institution may also lead to 3 years in jail. Alternatively, they may also be deported.
Users who take advantage of the Internet to organise unlicensed demonstrations within the country are also going to be sentenced jail terms. Those who are found guilty of much broader crimes against the government such as soliciting prostitution or trafficking firearms will also be sentenced, as issued by the presidential decree.
The updated legislation, in fact, expands the 2006 cyber law of the country. The new cyber law has been advocated as the most comprehensive cyber law in the Middle East.
The law is also promoted for protecting personal information and privacy. Al Ittihad, a local newspaper, mentions that posting video or images online without any prior permission may possibly lead to imprisonment for up to 6 months. The fines for such violations can go as high as 500,000 dirhams which is equal to around $140,000.
The UAE has always been extremely tough on its residents regarding the use of the Net. On the other hand, other Gulf countries may follow the strict cyber laws of the country, as they harmonise telecommunications policies and security. Dubai police arrested a man in July for posting a video online. The video showed an Emirati thrashing a motorist of South Asian origin. The incident took place after there was a traffic altercation.
Dr Ali Al Jarman who is a managing partner at the Dubai law firm Prestige Advocates said that the law also included penalties against religious insults and for inciting conspiracy. Nevertheless, the new cyber laws may end up violating freedom of speech in the UAE for journalists, as well as residents of the country, who use social media for any reason.