Monday, 4 November 2013

Posting People's Pictures Online Could Carry A Fine Or Even Jail Time

United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates (Photo credit: saraab™)
The National newspaper today confirms what has long been an odd quirk here in the UAE has indeed been taken to its (inevitable) online conclusion - publishing (posting) pictures of people without their consent is against the law here - and, as a criminal case, could result in a hefty fine or prison time.

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...
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Grumpy Goat said...

I do not give explicit permission to have me and/or my vehicle photographed and the picture posted on the Dubai Police website. Does this mean that speed cameras are illegal?

Presumably, the resolution to this paradox is that I give implicit consent to be photographed if I'm in a public place. And if that's the case, how can it be a criminal offence to post on a public forum something that was on display in public?

gerald.d said...

Audio recordings are dealt with separately to images - both in the UAE Penal Code and the "Cybercrimes law".

gerald.d said...

@Grumpy Goat -

No, your presumption is incorrect. UAE Penal Code, Book One, Title Two, Chapter Four, Section One, Articles 54 and 55 ("Performance of a duty"):

Article 54 -

There is no crime if the act is done in the performance of a duty imposed by the Shari’a or the Law if the person by whom the act is done is legally authorized to do it .

Article 55 -

There is no crime if the act is done by public employee or a person entrusted with a public service , in any of the following two circumstances :

First : If the act is perpetrated in execution of an order issued to him from a superior legally authorized to issue such order and who had to obey the order .

Second : If he performs in good faith an act in execution of a law order .

John said...

I've googled for a good amount of time trying to find the official online UAE Law / Penal Code, but couldn't find anything.

I'm trying to find anything related to photographers and/or photography to know what line shouldn't be overstepped.

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