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September 09, 2021|
The UAE has been at the forefront of taking decisive and proactive measures to curb the prevalence of cyber-attacks in the region. The strategy and success in combatting cybercrimes in the region lie in the adoption of more comprehensive and streamlined laws and regulations with stricter penalties. In this article, we would like to take you through the main concepts of cybercrime with a special focus on how the UAE tackles these issues.
What is a Cybercrime?
Cybercrime involves the use of a computer as an instrument to further illegal ends, such as committing fraud, trafficking in child pornography, intellectual property, identity theft, privacy violations etc. It involves distributing viruses, illegally downloading files, phishing and stealing personal information, like medical history, bank account details, etc. A crime can thus be distinguished as a ‘cybercrime’ if the key ingredients of the crime include ‘computer’ and ‘internet’. For this reason, cybercrimes are often termed ‘computer crimes.
Five Categories of Cybercrimes
Economic Crime: Economic cyberattacks are highly organized crimes that use the most advanced technology and tools to commit such crimes, often via hacking.
Terrorism: A cyber-attack is a term as an act of terrorism if it is targeted against a nation’s interests, particularly targeting its infrastructure, economy, resources etc.
Activism: ‘Wikileaks’ would be the right example to showcase an activist cybercrime, wherein the hacking is done in furtherance of an idealistic agenda.
Espionage: This can include both corporate and political espionage. Wherein the offender tries to obtain confidential information, protected trade secrets and other intellectual property rights to gain commercial or political advantage.
Warfare: Cyberwarfare involves action by a private or international organization attempting to damage or attack another nation actively by targeting its information network or computer system.
How The UAE Tackles Instances of Cybercrimes
The UAE has issued a new law on cybercrime, called the Federal Decree-Law No. 34/2021 Concerning the Fight Against Rumors and Cybercrime, under which cyber crimes, including cyber fraud, hacking, fabrication of accounts or emails, etc. are made punishable under law.
UAE authorities often take stringent legal action against unauthorized websites after verifying the validity and seriousness of each cyber complaint. Stringent penalties are imposed depending on the veracity of the act;
For example, An act of IP address forgery can be punished with imprisonment and a fine of up to AED 2 million.
Hacking a website, electronic system or information technology method belonging to state institutions is punishable with imprisonment and fines of up to AED 500,000. If the destruction or damage of the hacking causes to a website or destroys or breaches the confidentiality of data or information, the punishments are harsher, including imprisonment for not less than 5 years and/ or fines of up to AED 1.5 million.
Privacy violations, whether it is illegal hacking, recording audio or video materials, or taking photographs of others in a public or private setting, are strictly punished.
Acts of forgery can be punished with fines ranging from AED 100,000 to up to 300,00, and if such an act is committed against the government, then the penalties can include imprisonment and fines of up to AED 750,000.
Damaging, destroying, suspending or disrupting a website of a banking entity to obtain illegal data concerning banking accounts and card information can be punished with huge fines of up to AED 3 million and also with imprisonment.
The licensing telecom service providers in the UAE such as ‘Du’ and ‘Etisalat’, also take prohibitory measures to block online content based on complaints received for abusive or defamatory aspects.
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