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VPN users in UAE could be fined up to Dhs 2m under new law

VPN users in UAE could be fined up to Dhs 2m under new law

The new law aims to clamp down heavily on cybercrime

People in the United Arab Emirates who use virtual private networks (VPNs) could face temporary imprisonment and/or fines ranging from Dhs 500,000 to Dhs 2m under a new law.

The new federal law, issued by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan late last week, is focussed on combating cybercrime.

Federal law No. 12/2016 amends the existing federal law No. 5/2012 on combating information technology crimes.

Article 1 of the new law replaces the text of Article 9 of the old ruling as follows:

“Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than Dhs 500,000 and not exceeding Dhs 2,000,000, or either of these two penalties.”

The law will come into effect after publication in the official gazette, official news agency WAM reported.

VPNs allow people to access a private network worldwide by hiding their actual location. In the UAE, several people use VPNs to access international versions of sites such as online streaming platform Netflix.

The country has started clamping down on piracy online. Last month, a man in Abu Dhabi was jailed for stealing and illegally uploading a raft of television series and films from TV platform OSN.

He was sentenced to six months in jail, ordered to pay Dhs 50,000 to OSN in compensation and will be deported to his home country once his sentence is complete.

Read more: Online pirate jailed for illegally uploading OSN content

According to estimates by the International Data Corporation, TV piracy – through the use of illegal set-top boxes, unauthorised VPN subscriptions, and torrent downloads – costs over $750m in losses to the content and consumer product creation industries in the Middle East and Africa every year.

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