Any illicit use of the internet, computer network, electronic website or any other information technology means is prohibited and shall constitute as a cybercrime. The use of the internet for the invasion of privacy, for provoking another to commit a crime or for destroying any information of any of the regulatory authorities is strictly forbidden. Cybercrimes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are regulated under Federal Decree Law Number 5/2012 on combating cybercrimes. Cybercrimes can include anything ranging from identity theft, invasion of privacy, internet fraud, wire fraud, forgery or any other illegal use of any computer network. Any use of any information technology means without the proper authorization and legal rights shall result in the imposition of imprisonment and/or a penalty of a fine. Slandering of public officials, forging electronic documents, reproducing credit card date, insulting religions and Islamic Sharia Law, obtaining other's passwords for bank accounts or forging any medical data shall be constituted as cybercrimes and these different acts carry different penalties with it. The following list highlights the different type of cybercrimes and the punishments for it:
- Narcotics and money
laundering: Any person who deliberately and intentionally
commits through a computer network/an electronic information
system/any information technology means the following acts shall be
liable for committing cybercrime and these acts include:
- Any illegal transfer, transport or deposit of funds with the intent to conceal or disguise the source of funds;
- The concealment of the nature of the illicit funds or its origin, movement, related rights or ownership; and
- Illegal possession, attainment or use of funds with the awareness of its illegal origin.
Any person responsible for intentionally committing the above acts shall be punished by imprisonment up to seven years and by a fine ranging from minimum AED 500,000 and maximum of AED 2 Million.
- Access to an
Electronic information system: Any person who gains access
to any electronic information system, any website, a computer
network or information technology means without the authorization,
in excess of authorization or continues to remain in access without
authorization shall be punished by imprisonment and a penalty of a
fine ranging from a minimum AED 100,000 and a maximum of AED
300,000. Through such illegal access if a person participates in
any deletion, omission, destruction, disclosure, deterioration,
alteration, copying, publication and re-publishing of any
data/information, then he shall be punished with imprisonment for a
period of at least six months and/or a fine not less than AED
150,000 and not more than AED 750,000. Other illegal access would
- If the data or information objects of the acts are personal and are indulged in deletion, omission, copying etcetera, then the person shall be punished with imprisonment of at least one year and/or a fine of minimum AED 250,000 and maximum AED 1 million.
- If such an act is committed during the course of the work of the person, then such person shall be punished with minimum AED 250,000 and maximum AED 1 million.
- Any person who has access to any website, electronic information system or others as mentioned above without authorization where such access is intended to retrieve government data or any confidential information in regards to any financial, commercial or economical facility shall be subjected to temporary imprisonment and a fine of minimum AED 250,000 and maximum AED 1,500,000.
- If such access leads to the deletion, omission, copying, deteriorating, destruction, alteration, publishing or re-publishing of such government data shall be punished for a period of at least five years and a fine of minimum AED 500,000 and maximum AED 2 million.
- If such work is related to the medical field whereby the data and information are related to medical examination, medical diagnostics, medical treatment care or medical records, then any possession, modification, destruction or unauthorized access of such data shall result to a punishment of temporary imprisonment.
- Electronic communication: Any person that runs software on the computer network or an electronic information system or the information technology means and causes them to willfully or without authorization stop functioning or causing them to be impaired or results in crashing, deleting, omitting, destroying or altering the program, system, website or data shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of minimum five years and/or a fine not less than AED 500,000 and AED not more than 3 million.
- Defamation: Any person that insults (without prejudice to the crime of slander) another or accuses another of a matter that may make him subject to punishment/contempt by others through a computer network or via any information technology means, then such a person causing the contempt and accusation shall be punished with imprisonment and/or a fine not less than AED 250,000 and maximum AED 500,000. Slander against public officials would be considered as an aggravating factor of the crime.
- Forgery: Any person that commits forgery of any electronic document of the federal/local government or authorities or federal or local public establishments shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of minimum AED 150,000 and maximum AED 750,000. If the forged documents belong to any other authority other than the authorities mentioned above, then such person shall be punished with imprisonment and/or a fine not less than AED 100,000 and AED 300,000.
- Banks: If any person gains access without authorization or a legal right to credit or electronic card numbers or data to bank accounts, bank account numbers or any other data in relation to any electronic payment method via computer network or an electronic information system or any other information technology means shall be punished with imprisonment and/or a fine. The punishment shall include imprisonment for minimum six months and/or a fine of AED 100,000 to AED 300,000 if the data is intended to be used to take over the finds that belong to others or for personal benefit. If the person has succeeded to take over the funds for himself or others, he shall be punished by imprisonment for one year and/or a fine of AED 200,000 to AED 1 million.
- Extortion: If any person extorts another, threatens another or forces another person to engage or disengage from a certain act through information technology means/computer network shall be punished by imprisonment for two years and/or a fine shall be imposed from AED 250,000 to AED500,000. If the subject of such threat lies with committing a felony or with the purpose of engaging in matters against honor or morals, then such an act shall be subject to imprisonment up to ten years.
- State Security: Any person who publishes any information, news, statements or rumors on any computer network, website or any other information technology means aiming or calling to overthrow, with the intention to change the ruling system of the State, or seize it or does so with the intention to disrupt the provisions of the constitution or the laws applicable in the country or does so to oppose the basic principles which constitute the foundation of the ruling system of the State, shall be punished with temporary imprisonment and a fine of maximum AED 1 million. Any person disobeying the laws and regulations in force in the State by publishing any information regarding the computer network or any information technology means shall be punished with imprisonment and/or a fine of AED 200,000 to AED 1 million.
- Trafficking in antiquities: Any person that intends to indulge in the trafficking of antiquities or archaeological artifacts on instances other than permitted by law by means of establishing, managing or running a website information technology means to do so shall be punished with imprisonment and/or fine from AED 500,000 to AED 1 million.
- Religion and
Islamic Sharia law: Imprisonment and/or a fine shall be
imposed ranging from AED 250,000 to AED 1 million on any person who
commits through a computer network any of the following acts:
- Insults the Islamic rituals/sanctities
- Insult to the recognized celestial religions
- Insults any of the sanctities or rituals of other religions where such rituals are inviolable under Islamic sharia law
- Condoning, provoking or promoting sin
Imprisonment of up to seven years shall be imposed on any person that commits a crime of insulting the Divinity or any of the messengers or prophets. Any insult against the religion of Islam or anything that leads to the insult of the basic principles of the religion shall also be punishable. Whosoever opposes or injures the teachings and rituals of Islamic religion or prejudices the religion of Islam shall be punished with seven years' imprisonment.
Originally published by STA Law Firm, September 2020
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.