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Introducing a Cybercrime Law in the GCC

Guiding Principle

No commonly agreed single definition of “cybercrime” exists. Generally speaking, it refers to illegal internet-mediated activities that often take place in global electronic networks.

Cybercrime is “international” or “transnational” – there are ‘no cyber-borders between countries’. International cybercrimes often challenge the effectiveness of domestic and international law and law enforcement. Because existing laws in many countries are not tailored to deal with cybercrime, criminals increasingly conduct crimes on the Internet in order to take advantages of the less severe punishments or difficulties of being traced. No matter whether developing or developed countries, governments and industries have gradually realized the colossal threats of cybercrime on economic and political security and public interests.

However, complexity in types and forms of cybercrime increases the difficulty to fight back. In this sense, fighting cybercrime calls for international cooperation. Various organizations and governments have already made joint efforts in establishing global standards of legislation and law enforcement both on a regional.

1. Cybercrime Law in the GCC

As the ongoing cyber war continues to affect the Arab region, the GCC authorities issued a new Cybercrime Law.  The law is expected to address the rise in electronic crime which embraces such crimes as credit card frauds, internet crimes, cyber terrorism, creation and/or distribution of viruses, hacking, system interference, illegal access and interception, and so on.

The major objectives of this law are as follows:

  • Providing quality control on data protection;
  • Ensuring the GCC governments’ commitment to fight against cybercrime.;
  • Setting a national plan to face any threats or abductions on cyber safety;
  • Creating awareness of the importance of cyber safety;
  • Implementing strict measures towards ensuring cyber security.

2. Cybercrime Law in the UAE

The UAE has the most detailed and comprehensive cyber-crime law in the Arabian Gulf and wider Middle East. The UAE-Law No. 5 of 2012 concerning Combating Information Technology Crimes. Better known as the Cyber Crimes Law 2012, the law replaces the earlier Cyber Crimes Law 2006.

The Cyber Crimes Law 2012 provides for a range of new offences, including offences intended to address the UAE’s obligations pursuant to international treaties. Additionally, the Cyber Crimes Law sets out significantly higher penalties than those found in the 2006 law.

For the first time, the full range of offences that can be committed using the internet has been codified, along with the sentences for those found guilty. Crimes punishable under the new law include using the internet to transmit, publish or promote pornographic material, gambling activities and indecent acts.

This law has managed to encompass everything needed to safeguard against the possible violations that can take place in this rapidly evolving technology. The law creates offences of violating the privacy of others by eavesdropping and electronic publishing of information and photos, even if what is published is authentic. It will also be an offence to publish information online, or through any information technology means, with the intention to engage in trafficking in persons or human organs.

January, 2014 Tarek Jairwdeh
Meyer-Reumann & Partners, Dubai Office
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