UAE outlaws use of virtual private networks (VPN)

The authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have announced changes to its federal laws relating to IT crimes and pointed out that any person found using virtual private networks (VPN) fraudulently will face a fine or even imprisonments.

The new law forbids anyone in the country from using VPN or proxy server. The users of such servers can be imprisoned and fined between $136,000 and $545,000 if they are found to be using VPNs for fraudulent purposes. The law was restricted only to prosecutingpeople using VPNs as part of internet crimes but the new law restricts residents from using such networks fraudulently.

The new law will allow police officials in the country to catch anyone who uses VPNs to access blocked services, which is deemed a fraudulent use of such networks. VPNs are often used in online privacy as it allows users to change their location by connecting to a private network on the Internet. But such networks are also used to bypass region restrictions on content.

A large number of people in the UAE use utilise VPNs in order to access popular apps that are inaccessible in the country such as WhatsApp, Snapchat and Viber. Experts have criticised the UAE and telecom companies for trying to block voice calling features in such applications but UAE's telecoms regulator said that such apps should be blocked due to security reasons.