UAE: Do you use VPN to make internet calls? Know these rules


Dubai - In the GCC, VPN penetration is currently the highest in Qatar at 44.47% of the population, followed by the UAE at 39.91% and Oman at 24.79%.


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Thu 19 Aug 2021, 12:00 PM

The usage of virtual private networks (VPNs) is growing fast in the UAE, the neighbouring Gulf countries and Asia for different reasons.

Though it's legal to use VPN in many countries, there are certain restrictions imposed by some governments under cyber laws. It's illegal in many countries, including the UAE, to commit criminal acts or merely visit sites that the government has strictly banned.

In the UAE, VPN can be used by companies, institutions and banks for internal purposes. In many Gulf countries, expatriates use VPN for audio and video chats with their families and friends back in their home countries.

The usage of VPN in the UAE is not illegal if it's used as per the guidelines of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority. But the misuse can result in a heavy penalty as well as imprisonment for violating the local cyber law.

Article 1 of the Amended UAE Cyber Law states that the violators "shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine not less than Dh500,000 and not in excess of Dh2 million or either of these two penalties whoever uses 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".

In the GCC, VPN penetration is currently the highest in Qatar at 44.47 per cent of the population, followed by the UAE at 39.91 per cent and Oman at 24.79 per cent.

In Asia, VPNs were mostly used to unlock Western content and social media restricted by the government for a long time. Singapore leads with 29.59 per cent of population downloading VPNs, followed by India at 25.27 per cent during the first half of 2021.

Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN, says that in the future, VPNs will become as mainstream as antivirus products are at the moment.

"During the pandemic, cybercriminals took advantage of the confusion and lowered security protocols connected to people working at home. The good news is that it also made people more interested in cybersecurity. At the moment, there are 142 million VPN users in the US alone. And the demand is growing every year," said Markuson.

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