An Emirati man was sentenced to two months in jail after calling a woman ‘stupid’ over WhatsApp.
The defendant had no previous convictions so the prison term was suspended for three years, but he was fined 20,000 dirhams – £4,000 – for violating United Arab Emirates cybercrime laws.
He said he had proposed to the woman as they were getting to know each other online and ‘spontaneously’ sent the messages without meaning to offend her, English-speaking Arab news site Stepfeed reported.
An Emirati man was sentenced to two months in jail after calling a woman ‘stupid’ over WhatsApp. He is contesting the sentence at the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal (stock image)
The case dates back to March and became a popular talking point on Twitter among Arab commentators.
One insisted ‘He deserves this and more’ while another said ‘This world is doomed, no one can talk to anyone anymore.’
The defendant is appealing his sentence, asking for his jail term to be cancelled since he has already paid the fine.
Abu Dhabi’s Court of Appeal is now set to decide his fate on October 14.
The UAE’s laws on cybercrime are incredibly strict, with other cases involving a woman being jailed for three months after looking through her husband’s phone without him knowing.
The woman’s husband filed the lawsuit, accusing her of violating his privacy, and a court in Ras Al Khaimah – the northernmost emirate of the United Arab Emirates and known for its Arabian Gulf beaches – convicted her.
In the husband’s statement he claimed that the woman went through his phone and copied all the data to another device in order to search through the information at a later date.
The husband complained after his wife was said to have scrolled through his phone as he was sleeping before transferring pictures and chats to her own device to show her siblings.
Other cases involve a woman being jailed for three months after looking through her husband’s phone without him knowing. The husband filed the lawsuit against her (stock)
She claimed her husband gave her his password and let her go through his phone since she had caught him talking to other women previously.
Some on Twitter defended the wife, with one saying: ‘If she wasn’t suspicious over something, she wouldn’t have gone through his phone. Isn’t it shameful for him to jail his own wife?’
Others said the punishment fit the crime: ‘She deserves this. No one told her to go through his phone.’
Under the country’s laws it is illegal to go through anyone’s phone without their permission – even for married couples.
It is also a violation of personal online privacy if an adult’s information is looked at in secret by a partner, friend, relative, parent or work colleague.
In August, President Sheikh Khalifa created additional cybercrime laws which could see criminals facing jail terms of up to 25 years for the most serious crimes – involving terrorism.
The UAE’s strict cybercrime laws
President Sheikh Khalifa (pictured) created new cybercrime laws which could see violators jailed for up to 25 years
The United Arab Emirates’ cybercrime laws can see violators imprisoned for up to 25 years for the most serious offences.
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued Emiri Decree No. 02 of 2018 in August, which amended the country’s law. Under the regulations:
- Anyone who establishes, manages, runs a website or publishes information on a network for the interest of a terrorist group or any unauthorised organisation or body with intent to communicate with their leaders faces between 10 and 25 years in prison and a fine between 2million and 4million dirhams (£415,000 to £830,000)
- Those who incite hatred face being imprisoned for up to five years and a fine of at least 500,000 dirhams (£100,000). First-time offenders may be placed under electronic probation and monitoring
- Temporary imprisonment and a fine of up to 1million dirhams (£207,000) will be imposed on those who manage or run websites or use information on a computer network for ‘inciting acts, publishing or broadcasting information, news or cartoons or any other images that would endanger the security of the state and its supreme interests, jeopardise public order or attack judicial inspectors or any of those charged with implementing the provisions of the law’
- Foreigners who are convicted of any crimes specified in Federal Decree Law No. 05 faces deportation upon sentencing
The previously established UAE Cybercrime Law No. 5 of 2012 regulates online privacy law. The regulations state that:
- Those caught accessing a website, network or system without authorisation face imprisonment and fines between 50,000 and 1million Dirham (£10,000 and £207,000) if personal information is deleted or stolen
- Those who use technology to invade privacy by eavesdropping, copying photos or publishing news face six months in prison and fines between 150,000 and 300,000 dirham (£30,000 to £60,000)
- Those who run malicious software that cause a network or IT system to cease functioning or results om ‘crashing, deletion, omission, destruction and alteration of the programme’ face five years in jail and a 3million dirham fine (£620,000)
- Other offences prohibited under the law include insulting religions and their rituals, slandering public officials, sending or republishing pornography, forging official documents, reproducing credit or debit card data and obtaining secret passwords or pin codes
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Author: The Daily Sheeple