UAE lawyer warns against misuse of social media

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The UAE Cybercrime Law No. 5 of 2012, stipulates penalties like jail terms that could go up to a life sentence.
The UAE Cybercrime Law No. 5 of 2012, stipulates penalties like jail terms that could go up to a life sentence.

Abu Dhabi - An Emirati poet was recently jailed and heavily fined for committing this cybercrime.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Tue 4 Apr 2017, 4:39 PM

Last updated: Tue 30 Nov 2021, 9:12 AM

A UAE lawyer has warned people against the misuse of social media such posting insulting, immoral and defaming messages as it could land them in jail.

"We are in a new era with vast interacting forums in the form of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and others," said Ali Al Abadi an advocate and criminal lawyer in Abu Dhabi.

"It's important that people know how best they can use the social media platforms to socialise with friends, families and others without abusing, insulting and defaming others as it could land them in court."

The lawyer's warning is following a recent court ruling that banned an Emirati poet convicted of violating the cybercrime law by posting a poem that violated the society's norms and traditions online from using social media for a period of two years.

The Federal Appeal Court on Monday upheld an earlier ruling by the Federal Court of First Instance that found the man, who is known as the 'Poet of Sensations', guilty of violating the cybercrime law and violating public order and morality.

The Appeal Court judge also maintained the three months-jail-sentence and the fine of Dh250,000 handed down to the man but added that he was also banned from using social media as his punishment.

The Federal prosecutors took legal action against the writer, known as the "poet of the senses" (Shaa'ir Al Ahasees in Arabic) for misusing social media, technology and violated public order and morality.

Official court records stated that the poet had posted a poem on social media, which was against UAE's social values, ethics and religion.

Judicial authorities said prosecuting the poet was within the framework of legal protection and preservation of social, ethical and religious values in society.

The poet had challenged the ruling to the Federal Appeal Court, which rejected his appeal and maintained the first ruling by the lower court.

As per the law, use of technology in committing such crimes is subject to stiff penalties.

The UAE Cybercrime Law No. 5 of 2012, stipulates penalties like jail terms that could go up to a life sentence and/or a fine ranging between Dh50,000 and Dh3 million depending on the severity and seriousness of the cybercrime.

And Al Abadi explains that cybercrimes could be defined as the crimes which may be committed against individuals or groups with a criminal intention to intentionally harm others. These may include posting messages, pictures or videos to smear the reputation of the victim directly or indirectly, through the modern communication networks such as social media.

"Cybercimes also involve hacking and piracy, blackmailing and the traditional forms of online crimes," said Al Abadi.

"People should be considerate of other people's privacy and reputation before they publish anything on social media," he added.

The lawyer also asked families to keep an eye on their children to prevent them from being exploited on the internet by 'bad people' or blackmailers, and to explain to them the risks of misusing social media.

A judicial official in Abu Dhabi also warned people against the misuse of social media to avoid being charged with cybercrimes as many people were being jailed, fined and even ordered to leave the country because they had insulted people or even their spouse on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp.

"We have seen many cases of people being charged under the cyber crime law for offences especially posting insulting or abusive messages, pictures and videos on social media that could have been easily avoided," said the official.

"People should be careful while using social media and should be well aware of what is not accepted to post under the UAE law to avoid problems." He said authorities have endeavored to spread awareness on all types of cybercrimes through the media, lectures in schools, workshops, brochures and others to ensure people don't fall victims to cybercriminals and avoid violating the online law.

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