Cybercrime in UAE

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 14, 2023, 17:40:59


Cyber crime, national security


Cybercrime is an act that has carved out its path globally. Across the world, it is recognized as the use of a computer to further illegal ends, such as committing fraud, stealing identities, or violating privacy. Cybercrime has grown in importance as the computer has become central to commerce, entertainment, and government. The more the world is shifting towards digital, the larger the threat of cybercrime looms above every user’s head.

Owing to the great importance of this crime, the UAE makes sure there are laws in place to prohibit cyber activities that are really criminal in nature. The Federal Decree Law No. 5/2012 governs activities surrounding cybercrimes. This rescinds the Federal law 2/2006 to bring about updated and relevant laws.

The purpose of this article is not merely to cite the penalties and no. of years of imprisonment. It essentially seeks to convey to the readers the importance of cybersecurity and the kinds of cybercrimes prevalent in the United Arab Emirates.

Types of activities that may be classified as cybercrime:

Where there is offence, there is punishment. Hence, the Cybercrime Law sanctions a range of offences with periods of imprisonment along with fines between AED 150,000 – AED 2,000,000, including:

  • producing, transmitting, publishing, and exploiting through an electronic site, gambling and/or pornographic material or any other material that may prejudice public morals;
  • defaming or insulting others or causing a mishap upon someone that may make him/her subject to penalty or contempt by others by using an electronic site;
  • using electronic sites to display disrespect or hatred for any holy symbols, characters, figures, and rituals of Islam, and for any other faiths or religions and any of their symbols, characters, figures and rituals;
  • establishing, operating, or supervising electronic site(s) for the purpose of human or organ trafficking
  • using electronic sites to deal in illegal funds with the intention to hide or camouflage their source, or, for that matter, their source, movement, ownership, and rights attached to them, as well as to acquire, own, or use illegal funds despite knowledge by the involved person of the illegal status of their sources.

Unauthorized access to portals and systems

It is important to note that if any person digitally gains access to unauthorized websites or any other electronic information system, and chooses to remain in such access shall be held punished with imprisonment and a penalty ranging between 100,000 AED to 300,000 AED.

Medical Data

Article 7 of the New Cyber Crime Law expands the definition to include within its ambit, medical data and information by stating that any person, who obtains, amends, damages or discloses information obtained online, related to medical records, examinations, diagnoses, treatment or care, without permission, shall be punished with temporary imprisonment.

Protecting the national security

In fact, a Article 29 is included in the new law to protect the national interest of the country. A penalty of imprisonment and a fine not exceeding AED 1,000,000 may be imposed on any person who creates or runs an electronic site or any IT means, to deride or to damage the reputation of the UAE or any of its institutions, the President of the UAE, the Vice President, any of the Rulers of the Emirates, the Crown Princes, the Deputy Rulers, the national flag, the national anthem, the emblem of the state, or any of its symbols.

Cards, bank account and forgery

Article 12 describes the categories of private information and punishes any person who unlawfully gains access to credit card numbers, electronic card numbers, bank account statements and details of electronic payment methods with imprisonment and/or a fine. It punishes the intention to use and obtain funds belonging to third parties with imprisonment of not less than six months and/or a fine not less than AED 200,000 and not exceeding AED 1,000,000.

Article 14 of the New Cyber Crime Law prohibits a person from obtaining a confidential number, code or password used to access any electronic site without permission by providing for imprisonment and/or a fine ranging between AED 200,000 and AED 500,000

Article 13 further prohibits the forgery, imitation and copying of a credit card, debit card, and any other electronic payment method and punishes persons from using and knowingly accepting such credit cards, debit cards, and/or other electronic payment methods with imprisonment and/or a fine of not less than AED 500,000 and not exceeding AED 2,000,000.


Additionally, where human trafficking, sedition, sectarianism, terrorist activities, narcotics and money laundering are still obvious offenses that has to be punished severely, the UAE law to prevent cybercrimes also takes within its purview promoting demonstrations without a license.

It also seeks to protect the privacy and integrity of electronic communications. Article 10 prohibits the disruption of electronic communication by spamming electronic mail. Article 15 of the New Cyber Crime Law also provides that it is an offence for persons to capture or intercept communications online intentionally and without permission. The offence is punishable by a fine not less than AED 150,000 and not exceeding AED 500,000. Further, a person who discloses information obtained in this manner may be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year.

Way forward

With structured laws in place, the upcoming challenge may see a rise of offenses due to use of artificial intelligence that may need separate laws to be made in this behalf. During this ongoing corona virus pandemic, the digital revolution has taken such a shape that it would not be wrong to say that going digital now is a necessity not a luxury. In such cases, it becomes imperative to ensure that the society can be catered to in the best means possible with most convincing laws.

It is true that cybercrime is ever evolving. In fact, the world has only started seeing its menace. But, in reality that also expands the scope for cyber security.