Abu Dhabi: As many as 512 criminal cases pertaining to violations on social media platform were registered at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) as of October of this year, a senior prosecutor said on Monday.
The department registered 357 cases of social media rule violations last year, while the number of cases in 2017 was 392.
Major crimes committed on social media sites include; harassment, blackmail, threats, exploitation and invading privacy by entering other’s accounts, erasing details from the accounts and republishing and posting abusive comments.
These crimes also included posting fake advertisements, spreading rumours that aren’t true and provoking others to break the country’s laws, commit crimes and post slanderous or abusive comments online.
Addressing a forum on the misuse of social media sites and the law, Al Amir Al Amri, First Prosecutor at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, said, “In some crimes the punishments were from one year jail to life imprisonment, while others were from one month to three years followed by deportation.”
Fines were not less than Dh100,000 and didn’t exceed Dh3 million, he said.
Other online crimes committed were that of fraud and exploiting others for money.
Accordingly to the rules, the criminals can be jailed from three years to life and fined up to Dh500,000 followed by deportation.
When convicted, all equipment used in committing these crimes are seized, statements and information is deleted from the account and their sites are shut down. The culprits are even placed under further surveillance and denied access to the internet, said Al Amri.
Penalties came under Federal Law No.(5) of 2012, Wadeema law, terror law No. 7 for 2014, and hate and discrimination law No. 2 for 2015.
“The Federal law of social media convers crimes happen inside and outside the country if its impacts spread inside the UAE or outside crime comes under the jurisdiction of the UAE,” said Al Amri.
Article 30 of the Federal Constitution of the UAE gives freedom to people to express their opinions using all kinds of mediums under rules of the country but the freedom of using social media sites ends when it interferes with others rights and freedom, he said.
He urged people to report any online crimes to their nearest police station for preliminary investigations or the concerned specialised departments. Later the matter will be referred to the Public Prosecution, he said.
When the case reaches Public Prosecution, it starts investigations, contacts parties involved in the case and seeks help from cybercrime and concerned forensic departments, he added.
Public Prosecution also asked people to avoid misusing social media sites to trouble others urging families to keep a tab on their children’s activities online and educate them about its usages and abuses.
Parents should help their children to minimise the usage of internet apart from educational affairs and encourage them to participate in outdoor activities, the prosecution urged.
Al Amri said that the collective efforts and initiatives from all entities can limit the misuse of social media sites and awareness is vital.