Digital Etiquette: Safeguarding Individual Privacy under UAE Law


In the digital age, where information flows freely, respecting the privacy of individuals remains paramount.

The UAE has implemented legal frameworks to protect personal data and individual privacy.

This article explores the important elements of the Personal Data Protection Law, UAE Cyber Law, and UAE Penal Code, providing insights into the protective measures for privacy and the consequences for those who breach these regulations.

Personal Data Protection Law

Personal Data and Sensitive Data: According to Article 1 of the Federal Decree-Law No. 45/2021 on Personal Data Protection Law establishes a robust framework for safeguarding personal data and sensitive information. Personal Data refers to any information related to an identified natural person or someone who can be identified directly or indirectly.

This includes identifiers like name, voice, picture, identification number, online identifier, geographic location, or specific features reflecting the person’s physical, psychological, economic, cultural, or social identity. It also includes Sensitive Personal Data and Biometric Data.

Additionally, Sensitive Personal Data includes information that discloses a person’s family background, racial origin, political or philosophical opinions, religious beliefs, criminal records, biometric data, or any details regarding the individual’s health. This health-related information covers physical, psychological, mental, genetic, or sexual conditions; this type of information, especially related to a person’s health status, raises significant privacy concerns.

Data Protection Measures: Under Article 17 of the Data Protection Law, individuals have the right to object to and stop the processing of their data, especially in cases related to direct marketing, statistical surveys, or processing that violates the law.

Additionally, the law provides the right to object to decisions made through automated processing, with certain exceptions such as consent, contractual obligations, or legal requirements. The Controller is mandated to apply appropriate procedures and measures to protect the privacy and confidentiality of personal data. The Data Office has the authority to receive and verify complaints from individuals and the Data Office may impose administrative penalties as outlined in Article 26.

UAE Cyber Law

Privacy Violations: Article 44 of the Cyberlaw prohibits activities such as eavesdropping, recording private conversations, or taking pictures without consent, emphasizing the severe consequences such as potential jail time and fines. Even the act of sharing true information to cause harm is expressly prohibited by the UAE cyber law.

In situations as sensitive as accidents, taking pictures without permission is strictly forbidden. Tracking someone’s geographical information without clear consent is considered a significant breach of privacy. Those found guilty may face detention for at least 6 months and/or fines ranging from AED 150,000 to AED 500,000.

Misinformation Concerns: Furthermore, Article 52 highlights the significant concern surrounding the spread of rumours or misinformation. Individuals distributing false or misleading information through information networks may face detention and fines. Penalties intensify if such actions provoke public opinion against public authorities or occur during crises, emergencies, or disasters.

UAE Penal Code

The Federal Decree-Law No. 31/2021 on the Issuance of the Crimes and Penalties Law (UAE Penal Code) specifically Article 431, emphasizes the importance of protecting privacy and family life. Engaging in activities like eavesdropping, recording private conversations, or taking pictures without consent may result in jail terms and fines.

Article 433 further underscores the privacy of written communication, imposing fines for unauthorized opening of letters or telegraphs and eavesdropping on phone calls. Offenders who disclose such content without permission, potentially harming a third party, may face jail sentences or fines.


The UAE authorities have established comprehensive laws and penalties to underscore privacy rights. The legal frameworks discussed in this article convey that privacy is not just a moral duty but a legal requirement, ensuring the protection of individual rights in the digital landscape.


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