TechnologyUAE Laws

Using a VPN in UAE is illegal?

In conclusion, there's no restriction for individuals (citizens, expats and tourists) to use a VPN in UAE for whatever legal purposes.

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a secret tunnel for logging securely through an overseas server such as US, UK, France, Germany, Singapore, etc. instead of the UAE server that restricted internet usage to access illegal websites (blocked web pages).

The VPN unblocks all the contents that are blocked by the UAE authority and at the same time, it protects the user’s privacy. All the data that pass through secret tunnel can’t be intercepted by criminals, hackers and even by the government (if the VPN encryption is strong enough), the data can’t be spied into or stolen.

According to ExpressVPN, “A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a secure tunnel between two or more devices. VPNs are used to protect private web traffic from snooping, interference, and censorship.” [The ExpressVPN is expensive compared to its rival NordVPN.]

The primary objective of the VPN is cybersecurity that your privacy and security shouldn’t be compromised by criminals, black-hat hackers, etc.

The VPN is a safeguarding tool from cybercrimes for internal company resources if their staffs are working remotely, they can log on to the organizational network safely.

The VPN is a safeguarding tool for using e-banking – but beware from risky or vulnerable VPNs. When you are accessing e-banking through a secret tunnel of a VPN, it would prevent hackers from intercepting your login details to hack your bank account. Make sure that you are using a VPN which is a trusted name like Norton since your data will be passed through that network. If you use a risky VPN, your data may be compromised for misuse or exploitation, your device could be vulnerable for exposure to hackers.

It is highly advisable not to use any VPN for accessing e-banking if you do not find a trusted one. Therefore, avoid VPN for e-banking and use a more secure browser like Mozilla Firefox which is free from insecure plugins or add-on browser apps.

According to NDTV Gadgets, more than 25 percent of the 150 most popular free VPNs in the Google Play Store does not adequately protect users’ privacy, and up to 85 percent of them open users up to various security vulnerabilities, according to a new study published by VPN reviews and advocacy site Top10VPN.com. The findings have been published in an exhaustive risk index that details each free VPN’s real-world performance as well as behavior, including the permissions they ask for and whether they potentially contain malware. The 150 free VPNs tested have been ranked on the basis of their total install base as reported on the Google Play Store.

In UAE, you should choose only a legal name. So, ask your telecom operator.

If you are using free public Wi-Fi hotspots, that is, free Wi-Fi available in malls, cafes, airports, metro stations, hotels or restaurants – without using a secret tunnel of a VPN, you are exposed to hackers or cybercriminals. So, in such cases, VPNs could help you to protect your privacy.

Accessing pornographic contents using a VPN?

Users in the UAE, nowadays, have found the way to unblock illegal internet contents and illegal mobile apps using a VPN that hides the user’s identity by replacing the IP address located in another country. You’ll be using apps or browsing websites lookalike that you are from another country such as US, UK, Germany, Singapore, etc. where internet usage is not restricted. According to the UAE cyberlaw, it is illegal. In the case, your pornographic access is intercepted you may have consequences as mentioned in my another article: Jail for surfing pornography in UAE.

The Gulf News says that VPNs can potentially hide the malicious or criminal activities of certain groups or individuals who are out to harm the safety of a country or society.

UAE Cyber Law and Using a VPN

According to the Gulf News, “Private individuals should only use legal VPN services or stand at a risk of facing millions of dirhams in fines.

“The UAE Cybercrime Law No 5 of 2012, issued by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2012, includes stern punishments that could go up to a life sentence and/or a fine varying between Dh50,000 and Dh3 million depending on the severity and seriousness of the cybercrime.

“While the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has always maintained that the illegal use of VPN is against its policies, the police have also cautioned that legal action can be taken under Law Number 9 against users of VPN for any illegal activities.” (Gulf News)

According to the Khaleej Times, “referring to a recently issued amendment on the Federal Law No. 5 of 2012, the TRA noted that the law is not new in its essence and that the only changes were related to tightening the penalty or punishment for any violation.

“The authority has urged to read the actual violation mentioned in the law; which says: “Using a false IP address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery,” in order to understand the law correctly and where the punishment is exclusively linked to the mentioned fraudulent act and the intent to commit a crime or prevent its discovery.” (Khaleej Times)

In conclusion, there’s no restriction for using a VPN in the UAE. Individuals in the United Arab Emirates can use the VPNs if they’re not using it to commit a crime or to hide it from the discovery. They can use VPNs for legal purposes, that is, to prevent hackers from intercepting your data for crimes, spying, etc.

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Arif Mohammad

Independent Blogger, ECommerce Webmaster & Social Media Marketer. Mudawwana UK Director. Previously in Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi & Riyadh.

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