Explained: Fines and sentence for online threat and blackmailing in the UAE

Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultants | View firm profile

In the recent past, the increase in the availability of wide spread and fast internet has also expanded the scope of fraud, impersonation and blackmail through the online mode.

The United Arab Emirates has a robust anti cybercrime regime. The country’s old cybercrime law (Federal Decree Law No.5 of 2012) was recently replaced by the new cybercrime law of 2021 (New Cybercrimes Law).

The New Cybercrimes Law is an upgrade from the old law, as it has introduced new concepts, made changes to previously existing provisions, providing more protection to, and avenues for the victim to find relief under law.

New Concepts

The New Cybercrimes Law has introduced some issues not addressed in the past.

For instance, the New Cybercrime Law deals with crypto currency which is not licensed or has not been recognized in the country. Article 48 states that any advertisement, promotion, mediation or dealing in any form or encouraging the dealing in a virtual currency, crypto-currency online which is not officially recognized in the country or without license of the competent authority will be subject to penalties. The penalties include imprisonment and/ or fines of at least AED 20,000 and may extend to AED 500,000.

The New Cybercrime Law also deals with transmission of fake data through e-robots. Article 54 provides for imprisonment of up to 2 years and fines up to AED 1 million if a person either creates or modifies a e-robot for publishing fake news in the country.

What Does the Law Say Regarding Online Threats and Blackmailing?

The New Cybercrimes Law punishes extortion and online threats. According to Article 42/1, a person who threatens a person online to force him to do or refrain from doing an act will be subject to penalties. The penalties include imprisonment of up to 2 years and / or fines of at least AED 250,000 but not more than AED 500,000.

Article 42 of the New Cybercrimes Law is set out below for reference.

“1. Everyone extorts or threatens another person to induce him to perform or abstain from an act, by using information network or information technology method shall be sentenced to detention for a period of not more than (2) two years and/or to pay fine of not less than (250,000) two hundred fifty thousand Dirhams and not more than (500,000) five hundred thousand Dirhams.

2. If the threat to commit a crime or ascribing honor or consideration blemishing matters is accompanied by implied or express request to perform or abstain from an act, the penalty shall be provisional imprisonment for a period of not more than (10) ten years.”

The New Cybercrimes Law also punishes using the information network to breach a person’s privacy or his private/family life without their consent by actions such as recording conversations, audio or video materials, taking photographs of others at a public or private place, or even tracking the geographical footprint of third parties. The punishment includes detention of not less than 6 months and / or fines of not less than AED 150,000 but not more than AED 500,000.

Article 44 of the New Cybercrimes Law is quoted below for reference.

“Everyone uses information network, electronic information system or information technology method, for purpose of breaching the privacy of a person or private or family life of individuals without consent, in other than the cases legally permitted, by either of the following ways, shall be sentenced to detention for a period of not less than (6) six months and/or to pay fine of not less than (150,000) one hundred fifty thousand Dirhams and not more than (500,000) five hundred thousand Dirhams:

1. Eavesdropping, interception, recording, communication, transmission or disclosure of conversations, communications or audio or video materials.

2. Taking photographs of others at any public or private place or preparing, communicating, exposing, copying or keeping electronic images thereof.

3. Spreading news, electronic images, photographs, footages, comments, data or information, even if true and correct, to harm such person.

4. Taking, communication or publication of photographs of the casualties, dead persons or victims of accidents or disasters without permission or consent of the concerned persons.

5. Tracking, detecting, disclosing, exposing, copying or keeping data of geographical sites of third parties.

Everyone uses electronic information system or information technology method to make any alteration or processing of a recording, image or footage for purpose of defamation or abuse of another person shall be sentenced to detention for a period of not less than one year and/or to pay fine of not less than (250,000) two hundred fifty thousand Dirhams and not more than (500,000) five hundred thousand Dirhams.”

More from Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultants