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Legal Clarity Vital for UAE VPN Users

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Shulka S. Chavan

Published on January 20, 2024, 13:53:34

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uae, legal, VPN service, cyber law, cybercrimes in UAE

With the usage of Virtual Private Network (VPN) applications surging in the UAE, it is crucial to comprehend the legal framework surrounding its utilisation in the country, a legal expert said.

"Legal clarity is vital for UAE VPN users. While VPNs offer legitimate online access, adherence to government guidelines is crucial. Misuse of VPNs, especially for illicit purposes, is a serious offence. A nuanced understanding ensures responsible VPN use, balancing cybersecurity and compliance." Sunil Ambalavelil, a senior lawyer in Dubai, told The Law Reporters, while commenting on the remarkable rise in VPN applications in the UAE, reported by Atlas VPN recently.

According to Atlas VPN, a US-based VPN service provider, the use of VPN applications in 2023 registered a massive increase in the UAE, with a staggering 61.7 per cent of the population adopting this technology.
UAE residents increased their downloads of VPN apps by 1.83 million, reaching a total of 6.1 million downloads, positioning the country as the second-highest adopter globally, followed by Qatar (69.87 per cent), Atlas said in its latest update of the Global VPN Adoption Index.

“Though utilisation of VPNs is prevalent in the UAE, it is crucial for individuals to be cognizant of the legal boundaries and adhere to the guidelines set forth by the government to avoid any potential legal ramifications. “The government's emphasis on combating cybercrimes underscores the importance of responsible VPN usage within the established legal framework,” Sunil Ambalavelil added.

Legality

The use of VPNs in the UAE is considered legal as long as it aligns with government guidelines and the regulations set forth by the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA). However, employing VPNs for illicit activities or engaging in criminal behaviour is a grave offence under the UAE Decree Law No (34) of 2021, which addresses rumours and cybercrimes. Using VPNs to access blocked websites, calling applications or gaming applications is in violation of UAE regulations. 

Article 10 of the UAE Cyber Law explicitly states that individuals who misuse VPNs may face imprisonment and fines ranging from Dh500,000 to Dh2 million.

The Article aims to prevent the disruption of electronic communication by sending unsolicited emails and safeguarding the confidentiality and integrity of electronic correspondence.

The legality of VPN usage in the UAE is contingent upon adhering to the government's guidelines and the regulations outlined by the TDRA. Users should refrain from utilising VPNs to circumvent restrictions on accessing specific online content.
Atlas VPN conducted a comprehensive analysis of VPN usage across 86 countries worldwide, covering the period from 2020 to 2023. The VPN penetration rate was determined by aggregating the number of downloads in each country and dividing it by the respective population.

The data utilised for this study was obtained from reputable sources such as Google Play and Apple App Store, with the assistance of Sensor Tower and AppTweak services. These sources encompassed information from the top 45 VPN providers.

For any enquiries or information, contact ask@tlr.ae or call us on +971 52 644 3004Follow The Law Reporters on WhatsApp Channels.

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