Gilles Pargneaux, member of European parliament and vice-chair of the Committee on Environment, Health Security and Food Safety, with Andrew K.P. Leung, China strategist, on the second day of conference in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: As the threat of cyber terrorism grows with no international consensus on defining what cyber terrorism is, the UAE’s strategy in confronting cyber threats can be used as an example that other countries can look into in their own fight against the menace, said a government official at the International Conference for the Criminalisation of Cyber Terrorism (ICCCT) on Tuesday.

The conference being held in Abu Dhabi featured a number of policymakers and international experts discussing the best strategies for confronting cyber terrorism, with most experts agreeing about the need of establishing a broad and unified international policy to counter threats emanating from cyber space.

Jasim Ahmad Jasim Al Rashid

Speaking on the UAE’s experience, Jasim Ahmad Jasim Al Rashid, first undersecretary of Cyber Crime, Office of the UAE Public Prosecutor, said the UAE was clear in its definition of what constitutes cyber terrorism.

“Cyber terrorism [for the UAE] is extracted from the same definition of non-cyber terrorism, which are acts that are carried out to terrorise people or to cause severe bodily harm and death, and to damage property and the environment,” he said.

“Cyber terrorism uses technology to terrorise and harm others,” he added.

Al Rashid went on to explain that cyber terrorism included several different dimensions, all of which were regarded as crimes by the UAE with no differentiation between them.

“There are different forms of cyber terrorism — one aspect is exchanging, and spreading terrorist information online. This also includes creating terrorist websites,” he said.

“Destroying websites and information systems [are another aspect of cyber terrorism], and also carrying out acts of espionage [online],” he added.

Al Rashid said the UAE’s legislation on all forms of cyber terrorism put it at the forefront of countries confronting cyber threats, and signalled the country’s seriousness on tackling the issue.

“The UAE is a pioneer in setting up national laws and legislation to fight and counter cyber terrorism in all its aspects. The UAE is one of the most prominent countries in taking effective steps against cyber terrorism as international statistics have revealed, with the high number of laws that the UAE has passed.

“Punishments [for cyber terrorism] include imprisonment and heavy fines… The General Prosecution has dealt with and prosecuted several cases,” he added.

Al Rashid also said the UAE viewed online hate speech and discrimination as criminal acts.

“There are also laws against discrimination and hatred [that is spread online], such laws are all connected together in a way that sets a comprehensive legal framework to fight cyber terrorism in all its ways and aspects.”