UAE - Under the UAE's new cybercrime law, publishing and sharing fake news and rumours on social media can result in a minimum fine of Dh100,000 and one-year jail sentence.

The penalty increases to two years in prison and a minimum Dh200,000 fine if the crime was committed during pandemics, emergencies and crises.

The Federal Decree Law No. 5 of 2021 on Combating Cybercrimes, effective from January 2, 2022, covers new areas of the internet, bringing major amendments to Federal Law 5 of 2012.

“Under the new provision, online users who share incorrect information are also part of the crime, not only the publisher. Now everyone has the responsibility to confirm the information they receive before sharing it or risk being jailed,” said Ghassan El Daye, partner and head of litigation in Middle East at Charles Russell Speechlys.

“This is important because we know how fake news tends to be attractive for readers to share without confirming its authenticity which may unintentionally cause panic.”

For the first time, the law also defines the term ‘electronic robot’, with article 54 stating that using or modifying electronic robots to share, re-share or circulate fake news in the country can land the offender a prison term of two years or a fine not less than Dh100,000 up to one million, or both.

Offenders may face one year in prison or a fine ranging from Dh30,000 to Dh300,000, or both, if they publish information that does not meet media content criteria.

The new law comes as part of the largest set of legislative reforms announced on Saturday for the next 50 years.

The new reforms aim to develop the legislative structure of various sectors including investment, trade and industry, commercial companies, residency, online security and social affairs.


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