Lt. General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior on Wednesday toured the venue of the International Exhibition for Security and National Resilience. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: Residents across the UAE are finding themselves on the wrong side of the law because they do not realise that they’ve unwittingly committed a cybercrime, leading judicial experts said in the capital on Wednesday.

A simple act such as taking a picture of a bystander or a friend without their permission and sharing it through social media could be construed as a crime in a court of law, Dr Omar Al Ghoul, a judge at the UAE Federal Courts, told Gulf News.

“These sorts of seemingly simple crimes are a result of the increasing proliferation of smartphone use, and the public’s general lack of awareness on the UAE’s stance on internet use,” he said.

“The use of the internet has grown in the UAE to such an extent that, in some legal cases, it is being treated as an addiction, and ‘patients’ are referred to rehabilitation facilities,” Dr Al Ghoul added.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the fifth International Cyber Crimes Conference, which is being organised as part of the International Exhibition of Security and National Resilience (ISNR) by the UAE Minister of Interior. The three-day exhibition is held under the patronage of Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, national security adviser and vice-chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

According to experts, the most common types of cybercrime affecting users in the UAE include hacking, privacy invasions, slander and defamation. They urged greater international cooperation between lawmakers, especially as cybercrimes can often be transnational.

“The biggest challenge in punishing cyber criminals often arises because they can be operating from outside the UAE. Unless we have extradition treaties with the country, or similar laws on internet use, these perpetrators can get away with their violations,” Dr Al Ghoul said.

In addition to high-level conferences, the ISNR witnessed the unveiling of specialised drones to inspect incident locations.

“For example, these drones can immediately capture live footage of fires, which is transmitted to operations rooms for decision making and further action even before the team arrives at the spot. The devices will therefore enable us to respond to all emergencies within four minutes,” said Colonel Rashid Al Falasi, an official at Dubai Civil Defence.

The drones will also inspect warehouses and industrial areas in cases where owners and managers are unresponsive and could be concealing safety violations, he added.

As part of the conference, an international challenge that pits the physical capabilities and response times of firefighters was also launched on Wednesday. The competition features 150 male and female competitors from 13 countries, including eight female Emirati firefighters.

“My passion to help people motivated me to join this field three years ago. The challenge helped us share expertise and methods with our peers from abroad,” said Hasna Al Shamsi, a 26-year-old firefighter.

She added that the most common mistakes that cause domestic fires are leaving the gas main open, and leaving children unsupervised near gas cylinders.