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Is VPN Legal in UAE

Is VPN Legal in UAE

A virtual private network (VPN) enables an individual or business to access geographically restricted foreign content. This network allows the users to send and receive data as if they were directly connected to each other. The VPN is used widely in UAE both by consumers (for accessing foreign online content) and commercial enterprises (for directly linking the international offices with improved security).The moot question that arises here is whether the use of VPN is Legal in UAE?

The Federal No. 5 of 2012 (UAE Cyber Crime Law) is the principal legislatures governing the use of VPN in UAE. The legality of VPN is provided under Article 9 of the same law, which states that “whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address by using a false address or a third-party address or by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery shall be punished with temporary imprisonment and fine or both. The amount of fine was amended by Federal Law No. 12 of 2016. Now, the fine stood at a minimum amount of 500,000 and a maximum amount of 2,000,000 AED.

From the wording of the Article, it is quite clear that for constituting an offense, there shall be a use of fraudulent IP with an intention of committing the crime. So, if the VPN is used for legitimate purposes, it shall not  be considered as an offense.

Further, the Telecom Regulatory Authority in its statement gave due clarity on this subject. It stated that there is no legal provision which prevents the usage of VPN by companies, institutions, and banks to gain access to internet networks via the internet. But, using VPN for manipulating internet protocols with the intent to commit any fraud or crime is punishable under UAE Cyber Law.

After the pandemic, a large amount of work is done remotely and the employers are providing employees with access to VPNs for business purposes. However, the employer shall be extra careful while doing so. He should provide a disclaimer to the employee that the usage of VPN is restricted for legitimate business purposes and its misuse shall be at their own risk and consequences.

The main objective of the UAE legislation is to prevent access to nefarious content which may prove dangerous to the society. For instance- the recruitment videos for terrorist groups. So, in a nutshell, if VPN is used for legitimate purposes, its usage would be considered legal in UAE.

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