Chief Technical Officer Jailed in the UAE since October 2014, without charge or conviction
July 30, 2015
Court of Appeal rules in Matt Joyce's Favour
September 9, 2013
BRIT JONATHAN NASH FACES LIFE IN QATAR PRISON FOR BOUNCED CHEQUES
January 2, 2018
New Federal Laws punish people who value internet privacy with sanctions of imprisonment and fines of between Dh500,000 and Dh2 Million. VPN users beware!
July 23, 2016
There are many reasons to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when surfing the internet. Firstly, it adds a dimension of security and is recommended, especially when using public or untrusted wifi facilities. After all, who wouldn’t want to prevent their secure and private information from falling into unauthorised hands.
The use of VPN’s though, prevents government surveillance and removes the ability of the government to prevent your access to websites they have decided you shouldn’t have access to. In the UAE, these prohibitions include everything from pornography websites to human rights websites, news media sites and other sites that the authorities believe contradict their values or speak negatively about the government. UAE residents have complained that some of the blocked websites have clearly been made in error, due to “buzzwords” being present, thus inadvertently blocking sites that have no offensive content. Our own website has been blocked, adding extra difficulty to residents who are seeking legitimate assistance or information that may help them solve their issues.
This VPN specific clause is on top of banning WhatsApp phone calls and other VOIP services that can not be effectively monitored by the UAE government. We have asked a number of people about their feelings toward such censorship, one replied as follows:
“I don´t think anyone would mind if the authorities blocked some websites that are clearly to incite criminal activity, or even porn and gambling but when we can’t access websites that have information we need or reports on human rights, this is when we start to feel that we are being over controlled and it is too far removed from other countries and their policies. It feels very restrictive."
So seriously do the UAE take their censorship and monitoring, that they have decreed to punish those who choose to use a VPN, no matter what their motive. Article 1 of the Federal Law No. 9/2012 provides "Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address 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 no less than Dh500,000 and not exceeding Dh2 million, or either of these two penalties”.