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Never take photo without consent in UAE: Jail term and a fine of AED 500,000

Never take photo without consent in UAE: Jail term and a fine of AED 500,000

With the increasing growth of modern technologies, the rate of cybercrimes has also spiked at an alarming rate across the globe. To tackle the same, UAE has a comprehensive and a well dedicated cybersecurity strategy coupled with the strict privacy laws. The Federal Law No. (5) of 2012 (UAE Cybercrime Law) is the principal legislature governing all the provisions related to the cybercrimes. Recently, the UAE government has promulgated the Federal Law No. (34) of 2021 to make changes in the parent law to strengthen the existing legal framework.

Article 21 of the UAE cybercrime laws state that the privacy of an individual can be breached by recording, eavesdropping, transferring, transmitting or disclosing any communications or visual materials. All such actions are punishable under the cyber law. For example, If a person uses a computer or any other technological related material to violate someone’s privacy without taking consent, he shall be subject to a jail term of at least 6 months along with a minimum fine of AED 150,000, which can be extended up to AED 500,000.

Article 44 of the new law clearly prohibits and criminalises the act of taking photo of victims of accident or disasters, irrespective of the fact whether they are living or dead. Further, publishing or taking photos at any private or public place, through computer or any other electronic device, without their consent is strictly punishable. It is important to note that, in addition to taking photos, circulating or storing them electronically is also a crime.  A jail term of 1 year and a fine ranging between AED 250,000 to AED 500,000 shall be imposed on offender.

This punishment is mainly intended to curb the increasing violation of privacy on the social media platforms wherein a large number of users upload, circulate or store someone else’s images without taking their consent. After this enactment, the users should comply with all the federal and local laws. The provisions of the law are also applicable to the persons, who spread fake or unauthorised information.

The Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TRA) is the federal telecommunications regulatory agency of the UAE to adopt and monitor all the technology related measure. It conducts online monitoring of data and review privacy related guidelines. This agency also prohibits the publication or circulation of illegal or inappropriate content on the social media platforms.

In Short
From the above discussion, it is amply clear that taking photograph of anyone without having consent to do so is not permissible, and considered an actionable offense in the UAE.The new intends to improve the existing cybersecurity infrastructure to protect the government websites, databases and social media platforms from spread of unauthorised or misleading information. In addition to this federal law, all the Emirates have their unique cyber security rules, which shall also be complied with.

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