Saudi Arabia has announced that spying on the mobile phone of one's spouse will be treated as a criminal offense.
According to a wide-ranging cyber crime law approved recently, the punishment ranges from imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or a fine of not more than SR500,000, or both penalties, in case a husband or wife was caught spying on their partner's phone.
"Married individuals planning to spy on their spouse will need to think twice because such an activity could potentially attract a fine of SR500,000 along with imprisonment for one year," said a statement released by the Saudi Center for International Communications, which was established by the Ministry of Culture and Information in August 2017 to facilitate relationships with global media. The center serves as a central source of information on Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom, where almost 70 percent of the population is under 30 years of age, is among the world’s top per capita users of mobile phone apps and social media.
The new law is designed to protect citizens from blackmail, embezzlement and defamation, as well as to protect morals of individuals and society and protect privacy, the statement said.
According to legal sources, the penalty is imposed on the husband or wife in case of illegally accessing their partner’s smart devices. Deciphering the password to unlock a password-protected phone will be considered as sufficient proof for invading privacy.
If the husband and wife gave out or sent the information obtained through electronic means of communication, the penalty then is one year in prison and a fine of SR500,000.
However, If the phone is accessed without using or sharing the information, the crime in this case will result in a penalty with a warning from the judge according to the circumstances of the case, and the damage caused to the person whose cell phone was accessed.
Legal Adviser Abdul Aziz Bin Batel said crimes related to information technology involve any devices such as computers, mobile phones and cameras, and is punishable according to the law.??
Speaking to Al-Arabiya, Al-Batel said the amount of the fine would go to the state treasury, not as a compensation for the other party.
He stressed that the law does not apply to the control of parents over devices belonging to their children in order to protect them against abuse or for their guidance and care.
With the spouses, taking pictures and saving them in another device will be considered a case of defamation. In such cases, the charges will be accessing and saving data in order to use it or publish it at a later stage.
The law specifies that it targets those who commit information crimes, namely tapping, intercepting or sharing data through the Internet without a valid reason and for blackmail, intimidation or extortion.
The crimes also involve illegal access into a website to alter the design of the site, damage it, modify it, occupy its address, invade privacy and infringe on private life by misusing mobile phones equipped with cameras and similar acts. — With input from Al-Arabiya English