The UAE has made an amendment to a 2012 Cyber Crime law, increasing financial penalties and extending jail terms to up to 25 years for terrorism related activity, WAM Agency reported today.
Those engaging in cybercrimes in the UAE can be sent to jail for a period not exceeding 25 years in addition to a fine up to some $1 million.
The terrorism related activity includes: “whoever establishes, manages or runs a website or publishes information on the computer network or information technology means for the interest of a terrorist group or any unauthorised group, association, organisation”, the WAM Agency statement read.
A separate measure has been created for “hate crimes” against the UAE or its leaders. Assailants can land themselves in prison for up to five years and a fine of no less than some $136,000 but which does not exceed $272,000. However, for first time offenders, UAE courts at discretion can sidestep the liable fine and prison term. Instead, levying the accused “under electronic probation and monitoring”, not allowing the use of “information technology” for up to five years.
Foreigners or expats infringing the Cyber Crime Law can be liable to be deported from the UAE.
Back in March this year, MEMO reported that Christian Wilke, a British National was detained for almost six months in the UAE for “electronic insults”.
Last year, UAE authorities tightened control over the dissemination of information and even banned the US-based Huffington Post – Arabic edition. Critics have long maintained that the cybercrime law heavily contravenes rights around freedom of expression and assembly in the UAE, and that it is merely a technique used by authorities to silence dissent. In 2016 alone, around 300 people were detained for voicing opinions on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
In recent years, the UAE’s judicial system has drawn heavy criticism from rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for violating the basic human rights of both Emirati and non-Emirati citizens and acting in a manner that contravenes international law.