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Is a relationship more important than privacy?

36 per cent of internet users in the UAE have admitted to spying on their partners online

  • Image Credit:
  • Heather Wright with her husband, Chris Lidster.Image Credit: Supplied
  • Hanif Mohammad with his wife, Shainaz HanifImage Credit: Supplied
  • Madhat Yousufi with her husband, Omar ZebImage Credit: Supplied
Gulf News

Dubai: Do you spy on your partner’s online activity? If you are feeling guilty, just know that you are not alone.

New research from Kaspersky Lab, a Russia-based cybersecurity and anti-virus provider, shows that 36 per cent of internet users in the UAE have admitted to spying on their partners online. This figure goes up to 45 per cent among those who are in an unstable relationship.

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It seems like people are placing more value on their relationships than their privacy, as the study goes on to state that at least six in ten partners share their device PINs and passwords with each other.

"It is better to be transparent"

Hanif Mohammad, an Indian accountant based in Sharjah, is one of them and admits to browsing through his wife’s phone at random. While he is going through her online activity, if he finds something “strange”, he asks her about it.

RDS_180220 YT Community Hanif Mohammad

He said: “I do trust her and know she will not do anything wrong. But, if I don’t have her passwords, maybe she can do something wrong. It is better to be transparent.”

He says he does this because he believes there are many predators online. It has become easy for such people to lure others. So, he checks all her facebook messages to see if a stranger has approached her.

He said: “I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. On Facebook, women seem to get a lot of friend requests and messages from strangers. I am concerned about her replies and safety.”

In his opinion, if he didn’t care about his relationship, he would have ignored such things. But, he believes it to be his duty to check.

He said: “Too much privacy is bad. In couples, transparency is necessary. If I am married, I should share everything and not hide anything. I think this is good for our family’s future. Most of the people who brag about private space want to hide something from their partners.”

Many people seem to be struggling with how much information they should share. Allowing your spouse to scroll through your phone seems to have become a relationship milestone in the 21st century. But, there are some people who don’t think it is necessary.

"Trust is more important"

Heather Wright, a British college lecturer based in Abu Dhabi, is one of them. She doesn’t find it necessary to check on her spouse’s online activity. She believes that trust is more important than knowing about your partner’s every conversation.RDS_180220 YT Community Heather Wright

She said: “I know all his pins and passwords, but I never use them. I believe relationships and privacy are interlinked. I trust my partner and so don’t feel the urge to spy on him.”

She admits to being curious when she first met him and so checked his internet history. But, having been married for five years, curiousity has been replaced by certainty. Additionally, she believes that each person in a relationship deserves a bit of personal space.

She said: “Being apart means you get the opportunity to miss them.”

"Some private space is healthy"

Madhat Yousufi, a Pakistani freelancer based in Sharjah, agrees with her opinion. She also believes that relationships are built on trust and even though she has shared her passwords with her husband, and vice-versa, no one ever checks the other person’s phone.

RDS_180220 YT Community Madhat Yousufi

She said: “We often scroll through our social media feeds together, but don’t even pick each other’s phone to answer calls, unless it’s family. There’s no need to go snooping around until and unless you suspect something.”

At the end of the day, they both know what happened in the other person’s day and who all they interacted with, both online and offline. However, there are some things that Yousufi believes are private.

She said: “I don’t want to discuss something that my friend has told me in private, for instance. Those things aren’t about us, but someone else.”

She is convinced that it is healthy for a relationship if each person has his or her private space. You cannot share everything.

She said: “I have my own friends and so does he. If I go out, he stays at home with our son and if he wants to go, I am happy to stay. It’s necessary to have personal space because things can get overwhelming sometimes. And overstepping boundaries could lead to arguments.”

"Ask, instead of prying"

Mohammad Othman Raqeed, a Pakistani health and safety environment engineer based in Dubai, has also shared all his passwords with his fiance and vice-versa. He states that he is never worried whether she might check his phone, because he has nothing to hide.

He said: “You need to know what is more important to you. I believe that a relationship is more important than one’s privacy. When we are out together, I am usually driving and she uses my phone and can check anything. I have no problem.”

He is of the opinion that being suspicious of your partner’s online activity is not a good thing. If you have any questions, ask, instead of going prying into their personal space.

He said: “Be open and don’t suspect anything. I give my fiance space, and she gives me mine. This is necessary for a relationship to work.”

While there are people on both ends of the debate, we would like to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you think partners should share everything, including their phone PINs? Tell us at readers@gulfnews.com.

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