As cybercrime become a global concern, many countries have responded by implementing clear cybercrime laws. Learn more about cybercrime laws in the UAE that protect our digital presence and enable a better experience of the digital world.
- Although the digital world brings upon wonderful opportunities, it has also opened doors to criminal activities in the cyberworld, or “cybercrimes”, that can attack both people (including children) or organizations.
- Cybercrimes are a growing global concern. Thankfully, nations internationally are working to instill laws and regulations that inhibit cybercrimes.
- Cybercrimes include criminal acts committed on the internet or other networks through digital devices such smartphones or computers,
- Learn more about UAE laws instilled to protect us in the digital world
Legal Action against Cybercrimes in the UAE
In the UAE, the below crimes are illegal under Combating Cyber Crime Law no. (5) of 2012.
Article 18: Acquiring child abuse material
Article 19: Using technology to encourage someone to engage in explicit behaviour.
Punishment is harsher if the victim is under 18 years of age.
It is also illegal to invade someone’s privacy by:
- Eavesdropping, recording, transferring conversations or communications, or materials
- Photographing others
- Publishing news, photos comments, or information even if true and correct.
It is essential to think carefully before acting online. Below are a few actions that may result in legal implications according to UAE’s cybercrime law:
- Sharing and posting photographs and media: be careful before posting images that include other people without their consent. This is a criminal offence that breaches other people’s privacy.
- Privacy and confidentiality: disclosing private or confidential information about an individual or organization without consent can result in legal implications.
- Offensive emoticons and emojis: Refrain from using culturally offensive emojis in social media conversations. This can result in serious complaints from the recipient even if it was intended as a joke.
- Defamation: or ruining an individual’s reputation by sharing content that provokes public disapproval or contempt is a strict criminal offence.
- Immoral, offensive content that shakes social cohesion: any content that is “inconsistent with public morals and good conduct including content that is un-Islamic, blasphemous, lewd, that encourages sinful activity, or that is aimed at corrupting minors, etc.” can have legal implications.¹
- Hacking and Malicious codes: “UAE TRA monitors online content available and prohibits content for hacking and malicious codes, Internet content providing unlicensed VoIP services and other illegal Internet content.”¹
Strict penalties against cybercrimes in the UAE:
- “Those caught gaining access to a website, network or system without authorization are to be imprisoned and fined at least Dh50,000, but fines can go as high as Dh1 million if personal information is stolen or deleted.”
- “Those caught using technology to invade someone else's privacy - which can even include eavesdropping, copying photos or publishing news - can be jailed for six months and face fines of between Dh150,000 and Dh300,000.”
- “The most severe penalty - five years in jail and a Dh3 million fine - is reserved for those who run malicious software that causes a network or IT system to stop functioning 'or results in crashing, deletion, omission, destruction and alteration of the program, system, website, data or information'.”
- “Additionally, the law stipulates various penalties for a number of other cybercrimes, including insulting religions and their rituals, slandering public officials, forging electronic official documents, sending or re-publishing pornographic materials, reproducing credit or debit card data, and obtaining secret pin codes or passwords”
Right to block online content: “Licensed service providers (Du and Etisalat) can also block online content if required and subsequent to complaints of abuse or defamation, authorities can take legal action against those running the sites after verifying the validity and seriousness of the complaint.”
Laws Protecting Children’s Safety in the UAE
Wadeema’s Law (Note that the below crimes are the speciality of the Child Safety Hotline by the Ministry of Interior)
- Excerpt of Article 33:
The following, in particular, shall be considered as threatening to the child or to his/her physical, psychological, moral or mental integrity, which requires his/her right to protection:
1- Loss of both parents and living without a breadwinner or tutor.
2- Child's exposure to neglect, rejection and homelessness.
3- Obvious and continuous default in education and care.
4- Habitual child abuse.
5- Child's exposure to exploitation or sexual abuse.
6- Child's exposure to exploitation by illegal organizations and in organized crime, such as planting the ideas of intolerance and hatred or inciting the child to carry out acts of violence and intimidation.”
- Article 37:
The following acts shall be prohibited:
1- To use or exploit a child in the filming, recording or production of pornographic materials.
2- To produce, publish, distribute or facilitate access of children to pornographic materials in any way.
3- To possess child pornography materials regardless of the intent to distribute the same.
To download, upload or send child pornography materials through the Internet or any other communications or IT means.
5- The custodian’s contribution to the child's participation in the production or filming of child pornography or any other sexual acts, or his permission or assistance offered to the child in such acts.
6- To exploit the child sexually by exposing or preparing him/her for prostitution or debauchery, whether with or without pay, directly or indirectly.”
- Wadeema’s Law (Note that the below crimes are the specialty of the Child Safety Hotline by the Ministry of Interior)
- “Every person who reaches the age of majority shall assist any child who asks him/her to notify the competent authorities or concerned entities about his/her suffering, the suffering of any of his/her siblings or any other child in one of the cases set forth in Article 33 hereof.”
- “The identity of the reporter shall only be disclosed with his consent and it shall be forbidden to disclose the identity of all the parties of the incident and the witnesses in the cases of child assault or abuse, upon using the information in the analyses or media reports or upon publishing all that may reveal his identity.”
Laws Protecting Children’s Safety in the UAE
Penalties imposed by Wadeema’s Law
- The UAE’s Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 concerning child rights, also known as Wadeema's Law protects children against all forms of negligence, exploitation, physical and psychological abuses. This includes harm to children in the digital world.
- Article 42 of Wadeema’s Law emphasizes mandatory Reporting:
- Clause 1: Every person shall notify the child protection specialist or child protection units in case of anything that threatens the child's physical, psychological, moral or mental integrity or health.
- Clause 2: The notification shall be mandatory for the educators, physicians, social specialists or others entrusted with the protection, care or education of the child.
- Article 60: Whoever violates the provisions of Clause 2 of Article (11), Articles (28), (34), (35) or Clause 2 of Article (42) of this Law shall be punished by imprisonment or a fine not less than AED 5,000 (five thousand).
- Article 64 emphasizes that if telecommunication authorities don’t report child sexual abuse material online, they are also liable to a penalty between 100,000-1,000,000AED
- Article 65: explains that the creation, distribution, filming and sexual exploitation of children and is punishable by a minimum 10 years imprisonment.
- Article 66 explains that having, downloading, sending, uploading child abuse material through the internet is punishable by a minimum 1 year imprisonment and a fine between AED 100,000 and AED 400,000
- Article 70 explains that the claim of the perpetrator being not aware of the age of the victim may not be pleaded.
How can we protect ourselves from unintentionally committing cybercrimes? How can we help prevent cybercrimes in digital communities?
- Remember to live by positive digital citizenship values to create a safer digital environment for everyone.
- It is essential to raise awareness about cybercrime laws, and what serious legal action can be taken.
- Raise awareness on the importance of immediately reporting cybercrimes through the e-Crime platform upon witnessing them, even if they do not affect us personally. We should never be bystanders to crime.
- Raise awareness on how to report child safety cybercrimes immediately, given the vulnerability of children.
What can we do if we fall victims to cybercrime or witness cybercrime?
In the case of online harm, we must not hesitate to report it to authorities.
- Dubai Police encourages resident to use the e-Crime platform to report cybercrimes such as Cyber Extortion, Online Hacking, Internet Fraud, Online Identity Fraud in the cyberworld.
- For child related cybercrimes, don’t hesitate to report through the Ministry of Interior Child Protection Center channels:
- Call the Hemayati Child Hotline through 116111
- Hemayati app on apple store or google play store
- E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org