|United Arab Emirates (Photo credit: saraab™)|
It's always been the case that you actually needed written consent before publishing somebody's photo in the UAE. That we often shortcut this requirement - as so many legal requirements are shortcut in a society which rubs along very nicely with a mainly 'laissez faire' attitude - does not mean it does not exist. As with so many aspects of life here, when things go wrong, the law comes into play and suddenly what seemed a forgotten piece of legislation becomes very real indeed.
Now it's been confirmed in words of one syllable that the online equivalent of the offline phrase 'publish' which is, of course, 'post' also carries the same weight. In short, you post an image on Facebook, Twitter or the like and you are open to criminal prosecution. Not a civil case, you understand, a criminal one.
Lt Col Salah Al Ghoul, Head of the bureau for law respect at the Ministry told The National: "Article 24 of the cybercrimes law stipulates that anyone who uses an information network to infringe upon someone else’s privacy shall be punished by a minimum prison sentence of six months and/or a fine of between Dh150,000 and Dh500,000."
You can consider an image to include video and, presumably, audio. So if you see a gentleman beating a hapless-looking chap around the head with his agal, you have 500,000 great reasons to pass by rather than film the incident and post it on YouTube.
That has always been the case here - as some of the more liberally grey-haired on Twitter pointed out when that particular video was put up. You can, literally, defame someone with the truth in the UAE.
Protecting decent folks' privacy or obviating social justice? You tell me...