United Arab Emirates residents who use the virtual private networks or VPNs could be imprisoned temporarily and/or fined up to 2 million Dhs under a just enacted law.
This new law passed by the UAE government and issued by the President of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan last week focuses on battling cybercrime.
The new legislation amends an existing federal law in the UAE in combating crimes related to information technology. The first article of the new law is what replaces the text from Article 9 of the existing law.
It summarizes the new law by stating that anyone using a network protocol address or IP address that is fraudulent through using a third party or false address by any means for the purpose of preventing the discovery of or committing a crime, will be punished through temporary imprisonment as well as a fine that will be a minimum of 500,000 Dhs, as high as 2 million Dhs or both of the penalties.
This law will be effectives following the publication of the same in an official gazette, said WAM the official news agency for the country.
VPNs allow their users to access a worldwide private network through hiding what their actual location is and showing they are in another location. In the UAE, many people use a VPN so they can access international versions of websites such as the streaming of Netflix videos.
The country started to clamp down on online piracy recently saying it has become too big. In June, a man living in Abu Dhabi was put in jail after he stole and then illegally uploaded a number of television movies and series from OSN a TV platform.
The man was given a sentence of six months behind bars and was ordered to pay a fine of 50,000 Dhs to OSN as compensation. The man will be deported back to his country of origin after he serves his sentence of six months.
According to data released by ITC the International Data Corporation, piracy on television through using illegal box TV-top boxes, unauthorized subscriptions to VPN and torrent downloads, costs more than $750 million of losses to the consumer product and content creation industries across the Middle East as well as Africa annually.