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Cairo: Penalties for online slander in Saudi Arabia reach one year in jail and a maximum fine of SR500,000, a lawyer has said, warning against the proliferation of this cybercrime.

“Electronic defamation can be defined as targeting an offensive word or a phrase at a person harming his/her honour or disparaging him/her or distorting his/her reputation on social media,” lawyer Nawal Al Dosari told Saudi news portal Akhbaar24.

Citing wide spread of the online defamation, she described the “phenomenon” as one form of misuse of social media platforms.

“Technology is a doubled-edged weapon,” the lawyer said. “While it makes it possible for everyone to find information about any person anywhere and at any time, it has enabled se-curity agencies to identify the person committing a disgraceful act against others regardless whether the offender has used a real or fake name,” she added.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has stepped up anti-cybercrime efforts, netting dozens involved in different cases of online offences.

They include racial offences on social media punishable under Saudi law by fines up to SR500,000 and a maximum of one year in prison.

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Last week, Okaz newspaper reported that a court in western Saudi Arabia had sentenced a folk singer to 30 days in prison after convicting her of defaming an Internet celebrity and making racist remarks against her in clips.

The case surfaced when a Saudi Snapchat celebrity filed a lawsuit against a female compatriot, who is also famous on the Snapchat and performing at wedding parties, the report said.

The claimant accused the other of throwing racial slurs at her and violating her privacy by discussing her family affairs in public. The claimant presented digital evidence and a number of witnesses from their followers to back up her claims.

The court also imposed an undisclosed fine on her.

The two parties to the case have 30 days from the following day of receiving the verdict to appeal against it; otherwise the rul-ing, upheld by an appeals court, will be final.