Know the UAE Telecom Law - UAE's law on cybercrime and stay on the right side of the law!
In today’s digital world, for many of us, social media have moved beyond being a phenomenon, it has become an obsession. Our worldview has narrowed down to our iPhone screen so naturally; it’s easy to lose sight of how our unthinking social media posts can adversely impact friendships or job prospects alike.
Our social networks have become platforms for self-expression, be it staying in touch with family and friends, posting photos that illustrate our daily lives, holiday snaps, jokes, and amusing cat videos, or our views on politics and culture.
Know The UAE Telecom Law
Few of us realize that those seemingly harmless and occasionally witty posts may be illegal under the UAE law. The UAE Telecom Law is designed to ensure that Internet users respect the privacy and feelings of other users. There are some simple ‘dos and don’ts’ that will ensure your social media habits stay on the right side of the law.
Posting photographs: Care needs to be taken when posting pictures of others online, since the Cyber Crimes Law (Federal Law No. 5 of 2012) makes it an offence to use any Information Technology means to breach someone else's privacy, including by taking pictures of others, publishing, or displaying those pictures.
Posting someone’s photo without their consent leaves you open to being sued for breach of privacy and the UAE Cyber Crimes law gives them the right to do so.
Similarly, disclosing confidential information, such as information belonging to an employer, can also attract a legal liability in the UAE.
Character On Display
More and more employers are looking at their candidate’s public social media profiles these days as part of the interviewing and selection process. Always remember that those fun, sexy, and vampish images may feel like harmless fun at the time but can come back to haunt you professionally. Your social media profile and the images you post reflect your personality and form part of a recruiter’s selection process.
The UAE Penal Code makes it an offence to publish materials or information that exposes another person to public contempt or hatred, or to make a false accusation, which discredits another person.
So, don’t abuse your boss or workplace online. Venting your feelings about your boss, your workplace, or your workload by posting on Facebook can expose you to litigation. Even if you’re overcome by a desperate need to post a status update accompanied by a full tribe of emojis showing your feelings in the moment, be very careful about the words you use, and definitely do not abuse someone by name.
This rash act could legally mean defamation. At the very least, it could catch the boss’ eye, crater your promotion prospects, and dissuade future employers from hiring you.
Never insult a stranger online, even if you strongly feel that they are wrong or that they have done something offensive. That doesn’t give you the right to insult them online. Posting anything that allows that person to be identified, together with cursing or swear words, can result in your speedy deportation.
Accident Photos Are A No-No
The Ministry of Interior recently reminded members of the UAE public that taking and forwarding accident site pictures is illegal. This occurred after a recent crash-landing of a passenger plane in Dubai and also extends to car crashes, so put your smartphone away when you are passing the scene of an accident.
Never post or forward obscene photos or abusive memes, even if it’s a public figure. In the UAE, this can land you in serious trouble as it may fall under the defamation provisions.
It doesn’t matter if the photos or memes didn’t originate from your device, simply forwarding them to another user can constitute complicity in a crime.
In the UAE it is an offence to use any IT means for activities which are inconsistent with public morals and good conduct including content that is un-Islamic, blasphemous, lewd, that encourages sinful activity, or that is aimed at corrupting minors. You have been warned!
Verify Before Forwarding
One of the most irritating experiences is to be on a group list and to be inundated by randomly forwarded posts without the sender bothering to see if it is credible.
The UAE Cyber Crimes Law is very clear: “People who choose to start or spread misinformation on the Internet need to consider that here in the UAE, the law on combating cybercrime brings into its ambit criminal charges for damaging social peace and public order.”
When in doubt, record people’s consent to post images featuring them. When taking pictures in a social setting where you aren’t familiar with everyone, try to keep a record of their consent before publishing images of the event on your social media feeds.
This is to make sure that you have permission to upload their images. If they refuse, leave them alone. The UAE Penal Code (Federal Law No 3 of 1987) also makes it an offence to transmit someone’s photograph without their consent.
Similarly, always apologise if you make a mistake with a post. Scanning and posting photos of family or friends may leave them feeling embarrassed and it may also damage their career as well as throw a spanner in their social life. If you’ve posted impulsively, then take the picture down and apologise.
Remember Someone Is Watching
In the UAE, the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) routinely monitors online content. TRA regulations prohibits content for hacking and malicious codes, Internet content providing unlicensed VoIP services, and other illegal Internet content.
Under these provisions, Du and Etisalat can also block online content and can take legal action against anyone running or using those sites after verifying the validity and seriousness of the complaint.
Social network invites us to let our hair down – it’s so easy to quickly type out a post or upload a photo, with no thought about its consequences. Even throwing an insult at a stranger, or maybe even a friend, raises few eyebrows because we aren’t actually saying it to their face. The general feeling is that “what happens on social media stays on social media”, and real life can go on just fine, regardless of the skirmishes on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, or Snapchat.
However, like every action, what one does on social media also has an equal reaction. Silly posts can cost friendships, bad posts can cost jobs, careless posts may be an invitation for thieves, and really thoughtless posts can result in legal action. Residents in the UAE probably don’t often remember the social media boundaries set by the government, but the recent spate of people who have crossed the line is a reminder that one must act fittingly online as one would offline.
LET US HELP YOU MAKE THE RIGHT LEGAL DECISIONS.