Footage from surveillance cameras on buildings cannot be shared on social media or other public platforms. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Ajman: Ajman Police have referred a woman to Public Prosecution after she posted footage from her home security camera on a social media platform, showing an incident of attempted theft. The footage showed a juvenile walking beside cars and the woman, who posted it on social media, asking residents to be careful about thefts and robberies.

This post was deemed as triggering panic among the public.

Major Noura Sultan Al Shamsi, Head of the Media and Public Relations Department at Ajman Police, told Gulf News that Ajman Police do not take such posts lightly. He explained that police have the technology and ability to identify and reach any person found guilty of posting such material in record time.

Major Noura Sultan Al Shamsi

She said footage from surveillance cameras in the area revealed that the juvenile had unlocked several vehicles with the intention of committing theft. Police had identified the person immediately and arrested him within a few hours. But making such footage public was a concern.

Major Al Shamsi said the juvenile had claimed that he had resorted to the car theft attempt owing to some financial distress in his family.

In another incident, a man posted video footage bearing false information showing vehicles set on fire. He claimed that the drivers of the vehicles involved were young and did not possess driving licences — which was false information. The person who posted the video was tracked down and arrested. He was referred to Public Prosecution for further action.

Major Al Shamsi said some others were also referred to Public Prosecution over posting footage from home cameras.

Legal accountability

She said the UAE law prohibits people from publishing anything that affects security, provokes intimidation or hinders the privacy of individuals, adding that home cameras were set up to enhance security and protect families. Footage from such surveillance cameras were not meant for publication.

The official said that in the event that any suspicious activity is noticed through surveillance cameras, the relevant authorities must be informed immediately by calling 901.

What the UAE law says
Article 21 of Law No 5 of 2012 on Combating Information Technology Crimes stipulates: “[A person] shall be punished with imprisonment for a period of at least six months and fined not less than Dh150,000 and not in excess of Dh500,000 — or either of these two penalties — if he or she uses a computer network or an electronic information system or any information technology means for the invasion of privacy of another person, other than cases allowed by the law.
The following activities shall be considered unlawful:
1) Evesdropping, interception, recording, transferring, transmitting or disclosing conversations or communications, or audio or visual material.
2) Photographing others or creating, transferring, disclosing, copying or saving electronic photos.
3) Publishing news, electronic photos or photographs, scenes, comments, statements or information — even if true and correct — shall also be punished by imprisonment for a period of at least one year and a fine of not less than Dh250,000 and not in excess of Dh500,000 or either of these two penalties for on who uses an electronic information system or any information technology means for amending or processing a record, photo or scene for the purpose of defamation of or offending another person or for attacking or invading his or her privacy.

Major Al Shamsi stressed that publishing any material filmed via surveillance cameras on any social media platform, exposes the publisher to legal accountability. Moreover, such publications can destabilise security and affect the work of the police.

‘The Eyes of Homes’

Last week, Ajman Police launched an awareness campaign called ‘The Eyes of Homes’ in order to educate the public about the importance of home security cameras and keeping their footage confidential.

The campaign was launched by the Media and Public Relations Department of Ajman Police. Major Al Shamsi said the campaign comes as part of the police’s efforts to enhance security and ensure protection of society by installing home cameras and preserving the privacy of its members.

She also urged residents to use security cameras in their homes as they could help authorities solve potential crimes. People can check the Ajman Police website for companies that are certified and approved by the police for installing such security cameras at their homes.