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One in four UAE residents has a VPN, study shows

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on September 8, 2020 | Last updated on September 8, 2020 at 06.37 am
VPN, Virtual Private Networks, internet, TRA, telecom regulatory body, Atlas VPN


Misuse can lead to Dh2 million fine, land you in jail.

The use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) in the UAE is the highest in the world, with around four out of 10 residents downloading it. Though the use of VPN is not illegal in the country, its misuse is a serious offence and punishable with a fine of up to Dh2 million and imprisonment.

According to a study by Atlas VPN, with over 3.8 million UAE residents downloading a VPN in the first half of 2020, the country has a penetration rate of 38.72 per cent. It is followed by Qatar, which has a VPN penetration rate of 27.95 per cent; Oman 23.82 per cent; Saudi Arabia 15.54 per cent; and Kuwait 13.01 per cent.

The UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) had earlier said that VPN may be used by companies, institutions and banks for internal purposes.

What the law says

However, the usage of VPN technology for illegal means and to commit a crime is a serious offence under the UAE laws. Moreover, using VPN by hiding the IP address to get access to websites, calling and gaming applications which are blocked by the UAE government is illegal.

"The usage of VPN in the UAE is not illegal if it is used as per the guidelines of the UAE government and TRA," said Ashish Mehta, managing partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates.

Article 1 of the Amended UAE Cyber Law states that using a "fraudulent computer network protocol address by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery" is punishable with imprisonment and/or a fine of Dh500,000 to Dh2 million.

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