New United Arab Emirates Law Makes Using Tor, VPNs, and Proxies Illegal

A new murky law amended by UAE President dictates that people who use any method of personal security to ensure privacy on the internet will be fined or imprisoned.

According to Emirates24/7, UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued a significant number of changes to federal laws and one in particular is considerably concerning. The law in question is an amendment made to Federal Law No. 12/2016 and Federal Law No. 5/2012 on combating information technology crimes.

The most relevant change is what follows

“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 Dh500,000 and not exceeding Dh2,000,000, or either of these two penalties.”

In layman’s terms, the new law criminalizes those who use IP-masking technologies like VPNs, proxies, Tor, I2P, or others and risk going to jail, or additional fines between $135,000 and $545,000.

The purpose of this law, According to Softpedia, is to keep citizens of the United Arab Emirates from masking their real identity and making it appear as if they were located somewhere across the globe – outside of the UAE. Keeping citizens from masking their IP address helps prevent cybercrime, for one. But secondly, it would both discourage and scare users from using VPNs or proxies for accessing services blocked in the country, such Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Skype and others

Article 2 of the law states that the law shall be published in the Official ‘Gazette’ and shall come into effect the day following publication.

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