New Updates on how UAE combats cybercrime: Punishments and Penalties

Bizar Male

The UAE has been at the forefront of taking decisive and proactive measures to curb the prevalence of cyber-attacks in the region. The strategy and success in combatting cybercrimes in the region lies in the adoption of more comprehensive and streamlined laws and regulations with stricter penalties. In this article, we would like to take you through the main concepts of cybercrime with a special focus on how the UAE tackles these issues.

What is ‘cybercrime’:

Cybercrime involves the use of a computer as an instrument to further illegal ends, such as committing fraud, trafficking in child pornography and intellectual property, identity theft, or privacy violations etc. It involves distributing viruses, illegally downloading of files, phishing and stealing personal information like bank account details etc. A crime can be thus be distinguished as a ‘cybercrime’, if the key ingredients of the crime include ‘computer’ and ‘internet’. For this reason, cybercrimes are often termed ‘computer crimes’.

Cyber-crimes can be further classified into five categories:

  1. Economic crime – Economic cyberattacks are often highly organized crimes that use the most advanced technology and tools to commit such crime, often via hacking.
  2. Terrorism: A cyber-attack is a term as an act of terrorism if it is targeted against a nation’s interests, particularly targeting its infrastructure, economy, resources etc.
  3. Activism: ‘Wikileaks’ would be the right example to showcase an activist cybercrime, wherein the hacking is done in furtherance to an idealistic agenda.
  4. Espionage: This can include both corporate and political espionage. Wherein the offender tries to obtain confidential information, protected trade secrets and other intellectual property rights to gain commercial or political advantage.
  5. Warfare: Cyberwarfare involves action by a private or international organization attempting to damage or attack another nation actively by targeting its information network or computer system.

How the UAE tackles instances of cybercrimes:

  • The telecom regulatory authority (TRA) actively monitors the information and content available online and takes prohibitory measures for content that is malicious in nature.
  • TRA also initiates curbing measures against unlicensed VoIP service providers, including illegal websites.
  • The licensing telecom service providers in the UAE such as ‘Du’ and ‘Etisalat’, also take prohibitory measures to block online content based on complaints received for abusive or defamatory aspects.
  • UAE authorities often take stringent legal action against unauthorized websites after verifying the validity and seriousness of each cyber complaint. Stringent penalties are imposed depending on the veracity of the act;
  • For example: An act of IP address forgery can be punished with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to AED 500,000.
  • Privacy violations, whether it is illegal hacking and obtaining private picture or other reformation, are very strictly punished.
  • Acts of forgery can be punished with fines ranging from Aed 100,000 to up to 300,00, and if such an act is committed against the government, then the penalties can be up to Aed 1 million in fines and imprisonment sentence.
  • Acts of cyber hacking against banks in order to obtain illegal data concerning banking accounts and card information can be punished with huge fines of up to Aed 1 million and also with imprisonment.
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