Dubai cyberpolice crack down on social media and fake news

Published:  3 May at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, Citizenship, Dubai, UAE
Spreading fake new online in Dubai will now result in a fine of up to Dhs 1 million.

Dubai authorities are now cracking down on the dissemination of fake news via social media, urging those who read possibly fake news or receive it via an email not to share it. One reason for the clampdown is the UAE’s long-standing culture of respecting the state, its rulers and its peoples. Notices stating not everything on the internet is the truth are being posted, including the assertion that some news items are simply rumours intended to harm the state, its institutions and its citizens. The rule applies to posts on WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms as well as to SMS’s and emails.

The UAE has some of the strictest online interaction laws in the world, and all social media sites are regularly scanned for comment considered offensive or abusive, espeially if it's focused on government authorities. Targets include nudity as well as insults directed at the ruling family and its extended members. An alert system flags up suspicious content for investigation and, if an offence is discovered, the details are sent on to the security services. For example, sending a ‘flipping the bird’ using a ‘middle finger’ omoji is considered offensive and can land the sender in jail or even end with deportation.

Privacy laws related to internet usage forbid tagging other users without first getting their consent, and posting content contrary to Islamic principles, public morals and the state’s moral and social welfare is also forbidden. Individual users can be held accountable for posting their observations and opinions, and uploading videos or pictures of individuals without their consent onto the web or any social media platform is also illegal, as is disclosing secrets of anyone’s private life without first obtaining the person’s permission. Expats in the emirates are being urged to familiarise themselves with the law on social media posting before it’s too late.
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