criminal law

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December 25, 2019

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We read plenty of things online specifically to our social media feeds that may appear to be authentic, but frequently aren't. Fake news is information or hoaxes created to intentionally deceive or misinform readers.

Generally, such news is created to have an impact on people’s views, initiate political propaganda or create chaos. Top Lawyers of Dubai will discuss in this article the legal implications one may face post publishing fake news on social media or any other online platform.

UAE has continually been an area of safety and protection, regardless of any misleading information. The government never fails to implement laws and regulations safeguarding the interest of society at large. The objective is to achieve a healthy and safe society, with the country having zero tolerance towards any criminal activity resulting in personal or public injury. The UAE has stringent rules regarding the protection of human rights and preserving law and order.

Under the Cybercrime Law of UAE (Federal Decree-Law No. 34 of 2021 Concerning the Fight Against Rumors and Cybercrime), spreading fake news through an online platform is a serious offence and may result in severe penalties.

Article 52 of the Cybercrime Law states as follows:

“1. Everyone uses the information network or an information technology method to divulge, publish, re-publish, circulate or recirculate fake news or data, or false, malicious, misleading or incorrect reports or rumours that contravene the officially announced news, or transmit any provocative promotions that arouse or provoke the public opinion, disturbs the public peace, intimidate the people or harm the public interest, the national economy, the public order or the public health shall be sentenced to detention for not less than one year and to pay fine of not less than (100,000) one hundred thousand Dirhams. 

2. The penalty shall be detention for a period of not less than (2) two years and payment of a fine of not less than (200,000) two hundred thousand Dirhams, if any of the actions set out in Clause (1) of this Article arouses or provokes the public opinion against authority or institution of the state, or if committed at the time of epidemics, crises, emergency or disasters.”

As evident, any news which is untrue or which disturbs the public interest, national economy, public order or health will result in penalties under the Cybercrime Law.

Additionally, Article 25 of the Cybercrime Law also states as follows:

“Everyone publishes information, news, data, visual images, optical materials or rumours on a website, any information network or information technology method for purpose of satire or harming reputation, hegemony or position of the state or one of the state authorities, institutions or founding leaders, flag or currency of the state, the national anthem, slogan or national hymn or any national figure shall be sentenced to detention for a period of not more than (5) five years and to pay fine of not more than (500,000) five hundred thousand Dirhams.”

Given the penalties, one should be aware of the legal consequences of sharing wrong information or spreading fake news in the UAE. It isn’t uncommon to see all types of news on our social media websites and accordingly sharing them without knowing their authenticity may result in unwelcome repercussions. Accordingly, it is necessary to think twice before pressing the share button. If you come across such news, try to read more about the news to understand its validity before spreading it further.

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