UAE restricts use of VPN in the country

The president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyanhas announced changes to federal laws relating to IT crimes that may have made it illegal for anyone in the country to VPN or secure proxy service.

The authorities said 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 500,000 and 2,000,000 UAE dirham or $136,000 and $545,000 if they are found to be using VPNs for fraudulent purposes. The law was restricted only to prosecuting people 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.

The new law read, "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 Dhs 500,000 and not exceeding Dhs 2,000,000, or either of these two penalties."

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.