Last days there are many questions and discussions about using VPN (Virtual Private Network) in the United Arab Emirates. They caused by recently updated Federal Law No.12 of 2016 Amending Federal Law 5 No. of 2012. The law as for cyber crime in UAE.
Let’s see the original article:
Article 9: Punishment of Circumvention on the Protocol Address of the Internet for the Purpose of Committing a Crime or Preventing its Discovery
Any person that circumvents the protocol address of the internet by using a delusive address or an address belonging to third party or by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine of not less than (AED 150,000) and not exceeding (AED 500,000) or by any of these punishments.
The 2016 Amending Law replaces the operative section of Article 9 with the following:*
Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address or by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of not less than AED 500,000 and not exceeding AED 2,000,000, or either of these two penalties.
*Emphasis added for illustrative purposes. Please also note that all English language translations of UAE law are by definition unofficial, and only the original Arabic text as published in the UAE Official Gazette constitutes the legally recognized version.
VPN Legacy in UAE
Legal status of VPNs in the UAE under the Cybercrimes Law generally has not changed.
Using VPN is legal!
All depends on your needs – why do you use VPN for!
That is to say, in both of the above iterations of Article 9, it is not the strict use of a VPN alone that attracts potential liability – but rather its use “for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery”.
Using VPN in UAE
Now if you are using a VPN in UAE please check the next:
- Audit and assess your specific VPN usage – is it compliant with the applicable UAE laws and wider regulatory framework, in particular regarding matters of communications regulation and/or content restrictions?
- There’s no restriction on the legal use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) in the UAE, but those who misuse it for crime and fraudulent purposes will be held accountable, the Telecom Regulatory Authority has clarified.
- The VPN use for economic and commercial purposes that are consistent with UAE laws are not restricted, the authority said after reports on the use of VPN in a section of media.
- The authority clarified:
“There are no legislations in the country that obstruct the economic movement or the work of local or international companies based in the UAE.”
The TRA assured businesses and the public that it is fully committed to the safety and the smooth flow of economic activities for UAE-based companies and institutions, highlighting that there are no regulations which prevent the use of VPN technology by companies, institutions and banks to access their internal networks through Internet.
- However, business users can be held accountable, like the use of any other technology, if it has been misused.
- Referring to a recently issued amendment on the Federal Law No. 5 of 2012, the TRA noted that the law is not new in its essence and that the only changes were related to tightening the penalty or punishment for any violation.
- The authority has urged to read the actual violation mentioned in the law; which says: “Using a false IP address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery,” in order to understand the law correctly and where the punishment is exclusively linked to the mentioned fraudulent act and the intent to commit a crime or prevent its discovery.
Commenting on what has been circulated by some of media about the VPN, Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Director-General of the TRA, said:
“The UAE is proud of being one of the countries that encourage investment and openness to ICT-based economic activities. This trend is embodied the UAE’s history since the founding of the union in 1971.”It is also included in the strategic directions of the UAE, particularly in our national Vision 2021, which aims to make the UAE one of the best countries in the world – and clearly outlined as well in our national agenda and major programmes and projects that confirms the UAE’s leadership in this field worldwide.”The leadership of the UAE in the field of Internet applications and IT in general, is on the contrary to what has been circulated by some media regarding the use of VPNs. It is known that the UAE is keen to embody the directions of the wise leadership regarding smart transformation, including the smart government, smart cities, Big Data and IoT, in addition to promoting investment, competitiveness and focus on building a knowledge-based economy and society.”