UAE cyber law: Social media misconduct can cost you a lot

According to cybercrime laws, insulting others online or sharing photos or information affecting others' privacy are punishable

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ecently, a schoolteacher in Abu Dhabi lost his job after students and parents complained about his inappropriate behaviour on social media.

The teacher, who filed a compensation claim against the school for Dh501,000, lost his case at the Abu Dhabi Family and Civil Administrative Claims Court and then the appeal court. This case was one among the many instances where social media misconducts landed UAE residents in trouble.

In another incident, the Ras Al Khaimah Civil Court ordered an Arab man to pay Dh5,000 to a plaintiff as compensation for the moral damage caused after the accused cursed him on WhatsApp. The complainant said the defendant used abusive language to insult him and his wife in a WhatsApp voice message.

While fighting fake news and intolerance with a strong cybercrime law, the UAE also takes stringent action against social media misconduct and acts affecting others’ privacy.

According to UAE laws, posting photographs, videos or comments that invade someone’s privacy and personal life is a major offence that would attract imprisonment of at least six months and penalties from Dh150,000 to Dh500,000.

Refrain from making insulting or offensive posts which defame Islam or any other recognised religions. By Article 37 of the UAE Cybercrime Law, such crimes may attract imprisonment of up to seven years and penalties ranging from Dh250,000 to Dh1 million.

Here are the full list of penalties and fines for committing social media violations:

  • Information that agitates public opinion, causes panic or harms national security and affairs — one year in prison and Dh100,000 fine
  • Fake news, rumours, misleading or inaccurate information that contradicts official announcements— one year in prison and Dh100,000 fine
  • Fake news during pandemics, emergencies or crises — two years in prison and Dh200,000 fine
  • Photos or videos of other people without their consent — six months in prison and/or Dh150,000-Dh500,000 fine
  • Photos or videos of accident or crisis victims, whether dead or injured — six months in prison and/or Dh150,000-Dh500,000 fine
  • Comments, news, photos or information about a person, even if true, that may cause harm — six months in prison and/or Dh150,000-Dh500,000 fine
  • Misleading or inaccurate ads — prison term and/or Dh20,000-Dh500,000 fine
  • Information or data that defames a foreign country — six months in prison and/or Dh100,000 – Dh500,000 fine
  • Pornography or indecent content — prison term and/or Dh250,000 – Dh500,000 fine
  • Content that contains blasphemy and defames religions – prison term and/or Dh250,000 – Dh1 million fine
  • Content for collecting donations — prison term and/or Dh200,000 – Dh500,000 fine
  • Content that promotes unlicensed medical products — jail term and/or fine

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