Unbeknownst to many, governments across the globe go to great lengths at combating rumours in their nation for a variety of purposes. Whether it is to protect the harmony among the nation itself or to control widespread panic or to maintain a healthy relationship with other nation(s), to name a few, this is a constant field that a country’s government has to keep an eye on.
Information is key in running a country and in facilitating healthy communication among the citizens of a nation among themselves, with their government, and with other people around the globe. It serves as the glue in keeping the world together.
On the other end of the spectrum, rumours or false information do the exact opposite. Not only it can sow the seeds of distrust but it can snowball its way into something uncontrollable. Therefore, it needs to be controlled effectively.
Much like many countries in the world, The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also has its own way of tackling this atrocious problem. Spreading rumours in this nation can cost you a great deal. And this is exactly what we are going to discuss below.
Overview of How UAE Handles Misleading Information
News is one of the most integral parts of our lives, keeping us updated and informed of the whereabouts of the world. Naturally, this means that our lives are heavily dependent on it.
Our dependency on it can range from some of our simple decisions in life, such as checking the weather report to figure whether we should carry our umbrellas to work or not to as complex as buying shares and keeping a track of the rise and fall of the stock market.
As a result, any discrepancy in the field of news can dramatically affect us. This is why governments go to lengths to ensure that truth and only the truth is aired, printed, and broadcasted.
UAE has proven to be one of the safest countries in the world owing to its highly scrutinized process of curbing misleading information and destroying rumours. The government in this country leaves no stone unturned to ensure the interest of the society and the public at large is protected.
Whether it is technology or public education or law, things are always getting updated with the aim of providing better security and protection of human rights. As a result, any rumour which has the capacity to destroy the integrity or reputation of the country is strictly forbidden.
The publisher or broadcaster of any rumour-based news is subjected to face severe repercussions. In the same line of thought, if a piece of information is spread which breaches the privacy of an individual, then it is also considered to be handled under the cybercrime law and is regarded as a criminal act.
Shutting Down Rumours on Social Media
The spreading of rumours to the public saw a spike with the advent of social media. The rise of multiple social media platforms made it easier for people to connect with one another and share the news. At the same time, offenders saw it as a platform to boost their own selfish interests by sharing rumours and false news.
Unfortunately, sometimes these offenders make their rumour so professionally presentable that they seem authentic to a layman. This increases the chance of misinforming and deceiving viewers and readers.
The cybercrime laws of the UAE are one of the strongest and strictest in the entire world and have been framed with the intent of creating a safe web space. Spreading of rumours on any online platform is considered to be a serious offense and would lead to heavy penalties for the offenders.
The cybercrime law of UAE which is under Federal Law number 5 of 2012 reads spreading rumours online as an offense.
As per Article 29 of the law, “anyone whosoever publishes any information, news or rumour on any website or through an information technology network with an intention to make sarcastic remarks or intend to damage reputation or prestige of the state or any governmental official or members of Royal Family or against the national symbol, logo or anthem shall be punished with temporary imprisonment along with a fine not exceeding 1 Million Dirhams fine.”
Article 9 states that if someone misuse’s or denies access to the rightful owner or accesses an IP address to commit a crime, he or she would have to pay a fine of 500,000 Dirhams or face imprisonment.
Rumour mongers pose a serious threat to society since they hinder the development of a nation while also challenging the stability and security of the society. Therefore, any rumour monger caught in the act (depending on his or her degree of crime) might have to stand trial for their actions.
How to Save Yourself from Being a Victim of a Rumour?
If you end up on the short end of the spectrum and have been a victim of a widespread rumour or false information, don’t panic. There are ways you can save yourself and punish the offender.
The UAE laws have been framed to protect its citizens. But many times, due to the lack of proper information, people are not aware of their rights and who and when to approach help from.
Your first plan of action if you get in such a situation is to approach a certified law firm. Handling law is no joke. Therefore, we highly recommend you to get assistance from a reputed establishment so that you are under the supervision of trained and experienced lawyers who would be able to provide you with the best guidance.
While consulting with your lawyers, make sure that you are completely transparent with them. Provide them with each and every little detail so that your case can be dealt with smoothly. This would help in ensuring a smooth line of communication between you and your lawyers.
Nowadays, you don’t even have to physically visit law firms owing to the ongoing COVID situation (although you are free to visit them if you wish to do so). Many of them provide you with paid consultations over the phone.
Tackling Down Coronavirus-related Rumours
The COVID situation has escalated out of control around the globe. With the global lockdown and millions of deaths, this has been one of the biggest challenges that humanity has faced in the history of times.
Coping up with it is difficult as it is but the trouble that many internet offenders have been causing by spreading rumours about it makes it even worse. This has resulted in the government of UAE give specific attention to this area.
The UAE Ministry of Interior (MoI) has given a fair warning that anyone using social media to create panic and spread rumours about Coronavirus will be severely punished. The punishment can range from paying 3 million Dirhams to facing three years in prison.
In addition, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has issued a statement that residents shouldn’t circulate any information unless it is published or broadcasted by verified sources.
UAE has established itself as a powerhouse when it comes to creating a safe society, which is evident from its zero-tolerance policy towards criminal and illegal activities that may result in public or personal injury.
As technology advances, the means of spreading rumours also increases. Therefore, offenders have more opportunities to spread false information and cause chaos, tarnish the reputation, and put the health and peace of the society in jeopardy.
But, the penalties for doing so are strict and the government has made it extremely difficult for such offenders to escape the hands of the law.
Remember, not to immediately believe everything that you see on the internet, especially on social media, and be mindful of pressing the ‘share’ button since it can put you in trouble if the news happens to be false and you might end up paying a fine of 1 million Dirhams as penalty. Do your research and try and understand the validity of the news before sharing it on your timeline.
Seek help from reputed law firms in case you fall victim to such rumours and consult with them as to what should be the right step moving forward.
And if you happen to come across false information or rumour, do not hesitate to report it to your local law authorities. One step from your end can help bring down an offender. So, do your part, believe in the truth, and make wise choices.