20240417 sharjah flood
Rumour-mongers were warned of possible prosecution after an unverified report swirled around on social media alleging that two people died as a result of electrocution while wading on a flooded street in Sharjah. Police denied the report, and warned of legal action against perpetrators. File photo shows a flooded residential area following the heaviest rainfall recorded in the UAE in 75 years. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News File

Sharjah: Those spreading rumours were cautioned about potential legal action following the circulation of false narratives on social media claiming that two individuals had died from electrocution while walking through a flooded street in the emirate.

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Major General Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police, denied the story circulated on social media about the supposed deaths, and urged residents to stop spreading falst information.

The report told people to avoid walking on flooded areas and “touching metallic objects attached to the ground”.

Dh 200,000

Fines, plus jail time, under UAE Cybercrime Law for using the internet to "announce, disseminate, re-disseminate, circulate, or recirculate false news or data, or false, tendentious, misleading or erroneous rumours or reports".

The report stated two people died of electrocution in Sharjah as they tried to cross a flooded road. Both individuals reportedly “died” instantly.

“Power distribution lines are mostly built underground in the UAE, so pls avoid walking through flooded areas,” the social media post warned.

Report denied

Major General Al Shamsi confirmed to Gulf News that they did not register any death due to such incidents.

Sharjah Police warned against spreading false alarms and unverified stories on social media, due to its negative impact on society.

“The Sharjah Police informs all the fellow citizens and residents not to circulate rumours, misinformation, photos and news that come to them through social networking sites and other means of smart communication,” Major General Al Shamsi said.

He also asked residents not to distribute such content in any way in order to avoid legal accountability.

The police asked residents to check with authorities any news or information given to them, urging them to verify with Sharjah Police to ensure its credibility.

Federal Decree Law No. 34 of 2021 on Combatting Rumours and Cybercrimes took effect on January 2, 2022.

The law provides a comprehensive legal framework to address the concerns relating to the misuse and abuse of online technologies.

Under the law, various acts of spreading rumours and false news, are punishable by either (imprisonment and/or (a hefty fine).

Article 52 of the law stipulates that whoever uses the information network to “announce, disseminate, re-disseminate, circulate, or recirculate false news or data, or false, tendentious, misleading or erroneous rumors or reports, or rumors or reports contrary to what has been announced officially, or broadcasts any provocative advertisements that would incite or provoke the public opinion, disturb the public peace, spread terror among people, or cause harm to the public interest, the national economy, the public order, or the public health” shall be punished with at least one year of imprisonment and a fine of not less than AED 100,000."

This punishment shall increase to at least two years of imprisonment with a fine of not less than AED 200,000 in case any of the mentioned actions set out under Article 52 of the New Law result in the incitement and provocation of the public opinion against any of the UAE entities or authorities, or is committed during epidemics, crisis, emergencies, or disasters.