UAE - Fraudsters, illegal online sellers and promoters better watch out. Abu Dhabi's Department of Economic Development
(DED) just shut down 115 websites and social media accounts for selling counterfeit products and committing commercial fraud.
In May this year, the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) also blocked 267 websites for fraud, and offensive and obscene content. At least 117 (43.8 per cent) of the blocked websites were used for fraud while 115 of the blocked websites (43.1 per cent) hosted pornographic content.
The TRA added that 26 websites were blocked for violating intellectual property rights, providing illegal online proxy services and other illegal activities.
Mohammed Rashed Al Rumaithi, Director of Commercial Protection at Abu Dhabi DED, said they recently shut down 115 shopping websites for peddling counterfeit products, selling products with different standards than the ones mentioned on the websites, and selling products that aren't safe and harm health.
Authorities warned that anyone caught engaging in online commerce without the proper licenceswould be slapped with a fine of up to Dh500,000.
This covers also those selling items on social media, including home-based entrepreneurs who are operating online catering, tailoring and beauty businesses from home, lawyers have warned.
In a previous Khaleej Times report, Yousif Ahmed, senior legal consultant at Davidson & Co law firm, said: "We have come across a number of cases, including online catering and bakery businesses that offer great quality foods to online customers. But as a result of not being properly licenced, some do not accept card payments as they are unable to procure payment terminals.
"Furthermore, if their customers face health issues, these businesses could find themselves in a vulnerable position as they are unregulated and therefore, could be exposed to further penalties by the authorities," he added.
Residents have noted that selling garments, handbags, shoes, accessories and home-made food on Facebook and Instagram Lives, as well as on WhatsApp groups, has become common now.
Rumaithi said traders should apply for an e-commerce license, which starts from Dh512 and goes up according to the type of the business. He reiterated that residents would need to obtain the 'e-commerce licence' from the DED in order to sell goods and/ or products online.
He added that the Abu Dhabi DED issued 1,008 licenses for e-commerce traders, 747 for social media accounts, and 261 for websites last year. "The activities of e-commerce are diverse, which include selling of clothes, textile, gifts, equipment, machines, electronics, jewelry and other different services such as booking tickets for sports events and others.
Ruamith said the DED will determine the requirements, conditions, documents and approvals that must be obtained for issuing the licences. In Abu Dhabi, residents would need to obtain the ecommerce licence (eTajer) from Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development to conduct online trading."
Under the "Abu Dhabi Instant Licence" initiative, all licence applications are now streamlined through a digital portal and approvals are processed instantly online and licence holders in most sectors may begin conducting their business activities immediately.
Meanwhile, social media influencers who receive payments and royalties must also get licenses or they can get a fine of Dh5,000
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