United Arab Emirate’s President Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyanhas passed a new law banning the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and any infraction could cost someone dearly.
VPNs can be added to redirect someone's IP address to another country, therefore, enabling access to services that have been blocked in the UAE.
Federal Law No. 12/2016 combating information technology crimes, Article 1, states that, "Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than Dh500,000 ($136,000) and not exceeding Dh2,000,000 ($540,000), or either of these two penalties."
Travelers also come under this law and if caught using any VPNs in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the broader United Arab Emirates could face fines as well as well as jail time.
Using services like the voice and video calling features of Skype, Viber, FaceTime and Snapchat are also prohibited in the country.
Unfortunately nothing much can be done about it. Even the U.N. resolution reaffirming internet access as a human right and condemning any country which blocks certain parts of the Internet for any reason is just a non-binding declaration.
In countries like Bangladesh, China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Vietnam there is no such thing as full and uncontrolled access to the internet.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters, Kacper Pempel