UAE Implements Stricter Measures to Curb Online Insults and Slander
In a significant move to maintain a respectful and responsible online environment, the UAE has introduced stricter measures against the misuse of online platforms for insults and slander. The legal authorities have issued a stern warning, reminding the public about the grave consequences of using foul language or offensive remarks to insult others on social media and messaging services such as WhatsApp.
Prosecutors have emphasized that those found guilty could face severe penalties, including imprisonment and fines of up to Dh500,000 ($136,160). The laws also aim to protect public sector employees and individuals performing public services, with heavier punishments sought for acts against them.
Highlighting the impact of the digital era on such offenses, legal adviser Mohammed Najeeb explained that in the past, offensive language may have been exchanged face-to-face, but now it can happen with a simple click on a phone. This has led to an increased need for caution in online interactions, as victims of online swearing can report incidents even up to three months after the offensive content was posted or sent.
The court’s discretion plays a crucial role in determining the severity of the punishment, considering the specific circumstances of each case. While some judges may show leniency, the Supreme Court has issued strict verdicts after appeals from the Public Prosecution.
Recent cases involving online insults have spurred authorities to remind the public of the consequences. In one instance, an Egyptian man was found guilty of insulting a work colleague on WhatsApp and was ordered to pay a fine of Dh5,000. Another incident involved a social media influencer who insulted and defamed a local hospital, resulting in a Dh5,000 fine.
Encouraging a positive digital society, Mr. Najeeb advised individuals to be mindful of their language and cultural norms when engaging in online conversations or social media posts. By adhering to these guidelines, people can contribute to fostering a respectful and inclusive digital atmosphere in the UAE.
The UAE’s commitment to tackling offensive online behavior reflects its dedication to upholding ethical standards in the digital realm. As technology continues to evolve, it is vital for individuals to be aware of the legal consequences of their actions and work towards creating a welcoming and harmonious online community. With these measures in place, the UAE aims to promote a responsible and respectful online environment for all its citizens.