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‘Jail term and hefty fine’: Cybercrime law aims to curtail fake news on social media

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), citizens are being warned against sharing and posting unverified news or information from uncertified sources on social media platforms in order to avoid hefty penalties, the Dubai-based Khaleej Times reported on Thursday (January 27).

On Wednesday, the United Arab Emirates’ top prosecutor Hamad Al-Shamsi summoned several people who had shared videos of an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Abu Dhabi online. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been fighting the Houthis and the UAE is part of that coalition, which launched ballistic missiles on the Emirates’ capital on Monday (January 24).

Mohammad Al Dahbashi, the Managing Partner of ADG Legal, told Khaleej Times that the new cybercrime law places more responsibility on social media users to verify information’s source and credibility. ‘The law is clear in stating that a person will be penalized when sharing any content that contains rumors, fake news, unofficial news or anything that disrupts national security,’ he added.

Under the new rules, the general public is not allowed to upload or share videos or pictures that depict illegal acts or violations in the UAE. Activities of this type are only legal if they are aimed at sharing evidence with authorities. Here is a complete list of the penalties and fines that will be imposed by the new laws.

1. A year in prison and a Dh100,000 fine for information that agitates public opinion, causes panic, or harms national security and affairs.

2. False information, rumours, misleading or inaccurate information that contradicts official announcements – one year in prison and a fine of Dh100,000.

3. Two years in prison and a fine of Dh200,000 for fake news during pandemics, emergencies, or crises.

4. Photos or videos taken of other people without their consent – six months in prison and/or a fine between Dh150,000 and Dh500,000.

5. The posting of photos or videos of accident or crisis victims, whether dead or injured, carries a six-month jail sentence and/or a Dh150,000-Dh500,000 fine.


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