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Social Media Regulations In The UAE : Laws You Must Know

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 14, 2023, 17:41:00

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social media, social media regulations, social media news, social media in uae, social media rules, social media rules in uae, defamation laws

By Rajat R

The great rise in social media users in the past decade has given rise to many concerns regarding privacy, breach of trust and derogatory remarks among others.

Apart from protection of users, the regulations are put in place to encourage positive growth and development of social media by mitigating participation of anti-social elements.

Malpractices with regard to information technology in the UAE can land the accused with a hefty fine of AED 50,000 and imprisonment. Here are a few policies to be aware of to stay updated on UAE’s social media policy.

 

Defamation

The catch in the UAE is that defamation is considered a criminal offence whereas it is considered a civil offence in developed western countries like USA and UK.

Articles 372 and 373 of the UAE Federal Law No.3 of the Penal Code have made defamation a punishable offence. Article 372 holds good against the publicity of a person who is a victim of hatred and/or contempt. Article 373 mentions the malicious or dishonest allegations made on media against a person which humiliates or defames that individual.

The highest court in the UAE, the Court of Cassation has made it clear that if a criticism of an individual exceeds the set limits or if the negative publicity will harm his/her reputation, it is considered a defamatory statement.

A proven defamation case can attract a fine of up to AED 20,000 and a prison sentence of up to two years for the convict. If the derogatory statements were made against a public servant, the fine and jail term will increase.

If at all a person makes a statement that offends, insults, abuses or shows contempt towards any religion, that person is in for serious trouble with the law. As per the regulations of UAE, defamation or derogatory statements made against a religion is considered to be a harsh crime attracting a more severe penalty.

 

Social Media Regulations

In order to protect the privacy and reputation of all UAE residents, the Federal Law No. 12 of 2016 was amended from the Federal Law No. 5 of 2012 to combat cybercrime. All UAE citizen and resident social media users are bound by this law and few others which attract severe criminal proceedings.

The Federal Decree Law No. 2 of 2015 deals with keeping a check on discrimination and hate. This law takes action on social media posts that offend religions or provokes disharmony. The law also combats posts that insult God, prophets and holy books.

The laws mentioned are established to regulate content and comments that go on social media which could be offensive. Several other conditions are to be considered before a social media posting is made, they’re listed below.

 

Photography

In the UAE, clicking pictures of others without their consent is considered offensive let alone posting them on social media. The Article 21 of the Federal Law No. 5 of 2012 is the cyber crime law that forbids photographing other people without their knowledge or approval.

The Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 (UAE Penal Code) and Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 (Copyright Law) considers it an offence when someone photographs another person without prior consent and publishes them on social media.

Confidentiality

Disclosing confidential information is considered a criminal offence under the Cyber Crimes Law of the UAE. Invasion of privacy accounts to getting confidential information about a person from an employer for any reason, can attract a fine and temporary imprisonment.

In the social media perspective, the law applies when a person tries to acquire another individual or company’s confidential information through social media chats or comments.

 

Derogatory Remarks

As another form of defamation or character assassination, making derogatory remarks on social media can land the accused into trouble with the law. Publishing any information or untruthful statements about an individual thereby humiliating him/her online is considered defamation.

Writing derogatory comments on an individual on social media also results in infringement of interrelated laws in the UAE.

 

Morality

The Cyber Crime Law of the UAE treats immoral comments and posts as a criminal offence. Few of the instances include posts or comments that are non-Islamic, lewd, promotes sinful activities or mocks leaders of the Nation.

It is to be noted that just as WhatsApp chats can be produced as evidence in courts, WhatsApp calls are banned in the UAE. All forms of ‘Voice of Internet Protocol (VoIP)’ like FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Skype and WhatsApp calling are barred. Illegal use of such apps is a punishable offence.

 

Employers Beware

It becomes the concern of employers when an employee of the respective company is involved in cyber crime. If an employee is charged with a criminal complaint regarding any of the aforementioned laws, the cyber crime department of the UAE has rights that could put employers at risk.

Even if the employee’s case has nothing to do with the company where he/she works, the employer will still be part of the crime as the employer has sponsored that employee to reside in the UAE for work.

According to the Cyber Crime Law under Article 41, the confiscation of devices, permanent or temporary deletion of the website or domain name from which the crime was committed shall be made accordingly under the discretion of the court. Thereby giving the Police, access to employer’s office devices.

 

Summary

The states of the UAE are known for spearheading new generation of business and innovation. As a model nation for the old and young generation, the set of rules with regard to social media is always to protect social media users.

As the UAE hosts residents from all over the globe, the Emirates uphold the concepts of mutual respect and morality in a bid to develop the worldwide community.

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