6 legal risks social media users in UAE should know

Know UAE's law on cybercrime to stay on the right side of the law.

Image used for illustrative purpose only. Social media

Image used for illustrative purpose only. Social media


Social media is like a double-edged sword. It's a powerful tool to connect millions and send your views across, and share updates of your day to day life. But, at the same time, it has its risks. Whatever you post online becomes public information at once. You unknowingly share your life events with strangers, who may use that information to their advantage.

Thankfully, the UAE government has put in place laws that protect the individual's privacy, and ensure miscreants are brought to justice.

Here are some rules you should keep in mind:

> Posting photographs: Care needs to be taken when posting pictures of others online, including via social media sites since the Cyber Crimes Law (Federal Law No. 5 of 2012) makes it an offence to use any IT means to breach someone else's privacy, including by taking pictures of others, or publishing or displaying those pictures.

> Privacy and confidentiality: Disclosing secrets relating to someone's private life, without that person's consent can attract liability. Similarly, disclosure of confidential information, such as information belonging to an employer, can also attract legal liability in the UAE.

> Defamatory statements: The Penal Code makes it an offence to publish information that exposes another person to public hatred or contempt, or to make a false accusation which dishonours or discredits another person.

> Content contrary to morality, social cohesion: 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, etc.

> Online monitoring: UAE TRA monitors online content available and prohibits content for hacking and malicious codes, Internet content providing unlicensed VoIP services and other illegal Internet content.

> Licensed service providers (du and etisalat) can also block online content if required and subsequent to complaints of abuse or defamation, authorities can take legal action against those running the sites after verifying the validity and seriousness of the complaint.

(Legal pointers by Dubai-based law firm Al Tamimi & Co.)

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