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Saudi law punishes spying on spouse’s phone with jail

Saudi law punishes spying on spouse’s phone with jail

The punishment will apply to both men and women but it could tend to protect husbands from their wives

Spying on your spouse’s phone in Saudi Arabia now carries a hefty fine and up to a year in prison, under a new law that aims to “protect morals of individuals and society and protect privacy”.

The punishment will apply to both men and women in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, according to a statement late on Monday by the ministry of culture.

But it could tend to protect husbands from their wives.

Read: Saudi scholar warns wives against smartphone spying

As in many other parts of the Muslim world, Saudi laws on divorce, inspired by scripture, often require wives seeking alimony to provide evidence of abuse or sexual promiscuity. A husband’s phone can be a rich source of such evidence.

Called the Anti-Cybercrime Law, the measure makes “spying on, interception or reception of data transmitted through an information network or a computer without legitimate authoridation” a crime. It imposes a penalty up to SAR500,000 ($133,000), prison or both.

Read: Saudi society warns of $133,000 fine for harming others on social media

“Social media has resulted in a steady increase in cybercrimes such as blackmail, embezzlement and defamation, not to mention hacking of accounts”, the ministry said.

A similar law on the books in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates also bars the practice, carrying a minimum three-month prison term and Dhs3,000 ($817) fine.

The oil-rich and tech-obsessed countries are among the most avid social media users in the world, but traditional values remain ascendant, even in courts.

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