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Spreading Rumors in UAE

Spreading Rumors in UAE

In recognition of the UAE’s 50th anniversary, the Federal Law by Decree No. 34 of 2021 (the “New Law”) on Countering Rumors and Cybercrimes was adopted in the UAE. It has come into force on the 2nd of January of 2022. The New Law amended the Federal Law on Cybercrimes that was repealed by Decree No. 5 of 2012 (the “Repealed Law”).

Keeping in mind the ongoing increase in cybercrimes all over the world and specifically in the UAE, the new law was made to offer better protection for citizens and residents in the UAE against online crimes.

Breach of privacy

The New Law makes it unlawful for anybody to utilize an informational network with the goal to invade another person’s personal or family life without that person’s consent. Furthermore, taking a picture of a third party without their consent and posting it on social media may also be considered as an invasion of privacy if done so with criminal intent. Therefore, it is essential to protect the privacy of others whilst taking pictures in public. This may be done by way of blurring the faces of the people who may be captured in the background and/or editing them out entirely.

Article 44 of the Law laid out two factors that need to be present, in order for an action to be criminalised for the invasion of privacy;

  • The criminal intent to invade the concerned third party’s privacy, and
  • Doing so without the permission of the third party.

Spreading fake news and rumors

Article 52 of the New Law stipulated that whoever uses the information network to “announce, disseminate, re-disseminate, circulate, or recirculate false news or data, or false, tendentious, misleading or erroneous rumors or reports, or rumors or reports contrary to what has been announced officially, or broadcasts any provocative advertisements that would incite or provoke the public opinion, disturb the public peace, spread terror among people, or cause harm to the public interest, the national economy, the public order, or the public health” shall be punished with, at least, one (1) year of imprisonment and a fine of not less that AED 100,000. However, if the abovementioned actions resulted in the provocation and/or negative public opinion regarding the UAE, any of the UAE entities or authorities, or is committed during emergencies, epidemics and disasters, shall result in an increase of at least two (2) years of imprisonment and a fine of not less than AED 200,000.

It can be inferred upon the law set out in Article 52 that an online user could be punished or held accountable under the New Law for merely forwarding or sharing an article or comment that contains false or misleading information/news, even if the aforementioned user is not the publisher of such information/news. Online users are now required to verify the validity of the information they plan to share.

For further information and clarifications, please feel free to reach out to us.

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