Dubai: Clicking someone's pictures in public without permission is now a punishable crime in the UAE with six month jail or fine between Dh150,000 to 500,000 or both, according to the amended UAE Cybercrime Law.
The amended cybercrime law in UAE will offer greater protection to citizens and residents in the growing digital era.
The new law, that will come into effect from January 2, 2022, presents tougher penalties in certain crimes such as causing damages to data systems of banks, media, health and science sectors.
New federal decree Law No 34 of 2021 has introduced major amendments to Federal Law 5 of 2012, cybercrimes law, covering crimes committed online. The law aims to enhance community protection against online crimes committed through the use of networks and information technology platforms, protecting public sector websites and databases, combat the spread of rumours and misleading or fake news.
The new law offers protection to internet users from electronic fraud and preserves personal privacy and rights. It gives courts powers to confiscate devices, software, content or other means used in the crime.
Article 5 of the law states that anyone who intentionally damages, suspends or stops a website of a government entity or vital facility can be jailed and fined between Dh500,000 and Dh3 million.
As of January 2 next year, taking pictures in public places for tracking a person or secretly recording him or her will be a crime.
Comprehensive legal framework
Wageh Amin Abdelaziz, senior legal adviser at World Center Advocates and Legal Consultants, said that new amendments covered crimes committed online, including bullying, harassment and dissemination of fake news. “It is one of the first comprehensive legal frameworks in the region to address concerns arising as online technology advances,” Abdelaziz told Gulf News.
One of the major changes in the new law deals with recording people in public places, which has now become a punishable offence.
“Taking pictures of others in public places was a controversial topic as it used to be a crime only if the picture was taken in a private, not public place. The amendment to the law now makes it punishable [taking someone’s picture in a public place],” Abdelaziz explained.
He said that a person who takes pictures of others in public or private places and breaches the privacy of a person or family without their permission shall be jailed for six months and fined between Dh150,000 and Dh500,000 or both.
‘Protecting the privacy of others’
“As of January 2 next year, taking pictures in public places for tracking a person or secretly recording him or her will be a crime,” added Abdelaziz. He said that people need to understand that taking pictures in public places isn’t forbidden, but one must remember to protect the privacy of others while taking pictures. “People can take pictures and selfies in public places and document their moments freely, but one must always remember not to breach the privacy of others and respect their personal privacy and rights.”
The new law is in line with the major legislative reforms announced by the country for the next 50 years. The amendments to the cybercrime law authorises the UAE’s General Attorney to issue a case to block a website or platform that violates the law or commits a cybercrime directed at the UAE — even if the platform is based outside the UAE.