The President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has issued a series of new federal laws relating to IT crimes there, and there are quite a few that you should be definitely aware of. Out of the series of new federal laws, one of them includes a regulation that forbids anyone in the country from using virtual private networks (VPN). Yes, users cannot use them to secure their web connection from others wanting to see.
VPN services allow users anywhere in the world to connect to a private network on the internet. According to this new law, anyone in UAE who uses a VPN or a proxy server for that matter could face some serious consequences. The person might end up in prison or will be fined. This could impose a fine up to $545,000. So if you are living in UAE or if you are planning to move or visit UAE, then now is time to say goodbye to all the VPN services you use.
It is also reported that earlier the law was just restricted to prosecuting people who used these services. They used to be prosecuted as a part of an internet crime, whereas now the police in the UAE will take this extreme measure. The UK-based VPN and privacy advocate Private Internet Access said that this change is enabled to go after anyone and everyone who uses VPNs to access blocked services, which is basically the fraudulent use of an IP address. VPNs are also often used in conjunction with the Tor anonymity network to access websites hidden on the Dark Web etc.
It actually makes sense, because VPNs are mostly used for online privacy as they hide the user’s actual location of access to the internet. Currently, a majority of the population in UAE is using this VPN service to mainly access popular applications or services that are inaccessible from the Gulf countries. These services include WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc. These mainly includes communications based apps that use Voice over IP technology.
These services primarily affect the telecom companies since users can just use this service and avoid paying international calling rates etc. However, UAE being one of the very first government in the world to regulate on behalf of these companies and help them. Hence, this new law which is being regulated does not come as a surprise. According to other reports, the UAE government was also planning to block services like WhatsApp, Snapchat, Skype, etc. or at least their calling feature in the country. Telecom regulators have said that these apps should be banned primarily due to security concerns. Similarly, WhatsApp was blocked in Brazil,but it was mainly due to the parent company refusing to co-operate with the police over criminal investigations.
We don’t have any confirmation if these services will be banned or not but, the ones using the VPNs will definitely face severe consequences. Let’s hope this would stop many from using these services.