Sheikh Khalifa Issues Amendments to United Arab Emirates Cybercrimes Law

On August 13, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, issued Emiri Decree Number 2 of 2018, amending Federal Decree-Law no. (5) of 2012, the 2012 UAE Cybercrimes Law.  Decree Number 2 revises only Articles 26, 28, and 42 of the 2012 law.

Here are the provisions of Articles 26, 28, and 42 and the 2018 amendments thereto:

  • Article 26: This Article criminalizes “establish[ing], manag[ing] or run[ning] a website or publishes information on the computer network or information technology means for the interest of a terrorist group or any unauthorized group, association, organization, or body with the intent to facilitate communication with their leaders or members or attract new members, or to promote or praise their ideas, finance their activities or provide actual assistance thereof or for the purpose of publishing methods for manufacturing incendiary devices or explosives or any other devices used in terrorism acts.”  The 2012 version set the penalties for an Article 26 violation at imprisonment for a period of at least five years and a fine not less than Dh 1,000,000  (US$272,294) and not more than Dh 2,000,000 (US$544,588).  The 2018 amendment increases those penalties to imprisonment of at least 10 years and not more than 25 years and a fine not less than Dh2,000,000 and not in excess of Dh4,000,000 (US$1,089,176).
  • The Article 26 amendments also criminalize establishing, managing or running a website or publishes information on a computer network or information technology means with the aim to incite hate details, and sets the penalty at imprisonment for not more than five years and a fine of not less than Dh500,000 (US$136,147) and not in excess of Dh1,000,000 (US$272,294). In addition, for first-time offenders, a court may require an accused to be placed under electronic probation and monitoring, and prevent the accused from using information technology means during a period not more than the maximum penalty prescribed.
  • Article 28: This Article criminalizes “establish[ing], manag[ing] or run[ning] a website or uses information on the computer network or information technology means with intent to incite acts or publishes or transmits information, news or cartoon drawings or any other pictures which may endanger the national security and the higher interests of the State or afflicts its public order.” The 2012 version set the penalties for an Article 28 violation at temporary imprisonment and a fine not in excess of Dh 1,000,000.  The 2018 amendment adds to the intent clause a provisions addressing attacks on any member of the judicial court system.
  • Article 42: This Article authorizes a court to order deportation of a foreigner who is condemned in any of the crimes specified in the 2012 Law upon execution of the punishment adjudged.  The 2018 amendments provide that subject to the second paragraph of Article No. 121 of the UAE Penal Code, the court may order deportation of a foreigner who is convicted of any of the crimes specified in the 2018 amendments upon execution of the sentence adjudged.  Article 121 specifies that a court may order deportation for any felony or misdemeanor conviction and is sentenced to any term restricting the defendant’s freedom, but must order deportation “in crimes against honor.” It also permits a court to order deportation in lieu of sentencing the convicted defendant to a penalty restricting freedom applicable for misdemeanors.

These amendments reflect only relatively minor changes to the 2012 law, as to which one firm credited the UAE as “the first country in the Middle East to implement such a wide-ranging cyber crime law.”

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