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Jail term for spreading rumours online in UAE



News travels fast, and in the age of the internet it travels even faster. Social media means that everyone can share information, pictures and videos instantly, but it might be worth thinking twice before you post.

The UAE Ministry of Interior has warned against rumour spreading online multiple times, as it could threaten national security and harm public interest. According to an article on Emirates 24|7, people caught spreading rumours online could face a jail sentence of up to three years.

“Those who deliberately spread such rumors or lies could face jail of one month to three years,” Colonel Salah Al Ghool, director of law promotion office in the secretariat of the UAE Deputy Premier and Interior Minister, is quoted to say.

“We call on the public not to rely on such information. In the UAE, there are official platforms which provide accurate information and they should be the sole accurate source of any news for the public,” he said.

Spreading rumours is illegal under UAE law, and the widespread use of smartphones means that false information is often circulated quicker. A report by Gulf News back in 2014 quoted 999 Magazine, which highlighted how rumour spreading has become more serious.

Lt Colonel Awadh Saleh Al Kindi, editor-in-chief of 999, was quoted as saying: “There have been cases in the past where residents caught using social media to spread malicious rumours faced jail term or fine, or both. The UAE authorities will seriously deal with false news spread via social media harming UAE society.

“While in the past spreading of information happens through word of mouth, the massive power and influence of social media has changed the communication landscape and a misuse of social media can virtually spread mass fear in a click of a button.”

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