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UAE cybercrime law: When can you take pictures of someone without permission?

Up to Dh500,000 fine for taking photos of people without consent



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by

Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Thu 27 Jan 2022, 1:06 PM

Online users in the UAE are urged to refrain from posting or sharing unofficial news or information from unauthorized sources on social media to avoid hefty penalties, legal experts have said.

Under no circumstances can the public post, publish or share videos they have filmed of violations or illegal actions in the UAE.

However, the only case where people are permitted to click photos or record videos of crimes or violations of any kind without the other party's permission is to share with authorities as documentation of evidence, said Mohammad Al Dahbashi, Managing Partner of ADG Legal.

He said the new cybercrime law places a responsibility on users to verify the source and credibility of information before sharing it on social media.

"The law is clear in stating that a person will be penalized when sharing any content that contains rumours, fake news, unofficial news or anything that disrupts national security," said Al Dahbashi.

Under the law, anyone who uses the internet to publish, circulate or share material that may agitate public opinion, cause panic or harm national security, economic interests or public safety could face one-year imprisonment and a Dh100,000 fine. The same penalty applies to those who share false news, rumours or misleading information, contrary to the news published by official sources.

The penalty doubles to at least two years in prison and a Dh200,000 fine in case the false news agitates public opinion or occurs during times of pandemic, crises or disasters.

When can you film without someone’s permission?

Mobile technologies can strengthen people's role in maintaining public safety by documenting evidence of a crime or violation witnessed. However, any videos or photographs must be snapped only for the purpose of sharing with the authorities, not the public.

In fact, the UAE's cybercrime law criminalises photographing people without permission, whether in public or private and copying, saving or sharing these pictures on social media.

The violation can earn the offender at least six months in jail and/or a fine between Dh150,000 to Dh500,000.

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Al Dahbashi noted that those who spot illegal behaviour in public must alert authorities to take the necessary action and precaution to mitigate the potential damage that could be caused rather than filming and sharing it with the public. "Taking matters in personal hands can potentially cause more harm to the situation than good."

Videos of others will not bring legal repercussions as long as they are not shared on social media. "When filming something, people should be aware of a few factors, including invading a person or an organisation's privacy and secrets," said Al Dahbashi.

"When something is illegal, avoid sharing it with the public and share it with relevant authorities if necessary," he explained.

sherouk@khaleejtimes.com


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