The United Arab Emirates (UAE) public prosecution has announced penalties for spreading rumours and fake news.
In accordance with Federal Decree-Law regarding the spread of rumours and fake news, the Public Prosecution issued a video on its social media accounts stating the possible consequences for spreading rumours and false news.
The Civil Defence Authority in Abu Dhabi has warned residents not to spread rumours or fake news. The authority issued this advisory after a fire caused by a gas cylinder explosion in a building on Hamdan Street triggered panic among the public. It urged all residents to rely on official sources for details and avoid circulating rumours and incorrect information. The authority updated that it evacuated the building and there were no casualties.
According to Article 52 of the law, anyone who uses the internet to publish, circulate or spread false news, rumours or misleading information, which conflicts with the news published by official sources, could be punished by imprisonment for at least one year and fined Dh100,000.
The violator could be imprisoned for at least two years and fined Dh200,000, in case the published false news or rumours agitate public opinion against state authorities or occur during times of pandemic, crises or disasters.
Previously in 2021, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ministry of Interior has warned that anyone who spreads false information and rumours on social media in the country will be punished according to Internet law. The ministry urged people to act responsibly.
It was stated that those found guilty may face imprisonment and a civil fine not exceeding one million dirhams.
Under the federal legal decree of 2012 on combating cybercrime, spreading rumours that harm social peace and public order and imperil national peace enables the UAE government to prosecute the concerned individuals.
Spreading rumours used to be considered fairly harmless, but with the increasing use of Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, it has been observed that spreading rumours can be dangerous to society as a whole.
The Ministry of Interior stated that “There have been cases in the past where residents caught using social media to spread malicious rumours faced jail term or fine, or both. The UAE authorities will seriously deal with false news spread via social media harming UAE society.”
“We encourage UAE residents to educate themselves first and verify any information that they receive. To safeguard the country’s safety and security, the UAE has put in place strict laws, which include criminal charges and/or fines for damaging social peace and public order. These laws are deterrent in spreading rumours or false information on social media and the internet,” the Ministry of Interior added further.
Guidelines for UAE media content:
- Follow the rules of the media in the country such as:
- Respect for the Emirates, its symbols and its political system
- Show respect for other religions
- Respect the culture and heritage of the UAE
- Do not offend national unity or social cohesion and incite sectarian, regional or tribal conflict
- Respect the national and international policies of the United Arab Emirates
- Do not publish or broadcast information that is harmful to children, women and other social groups, or that may incite hatred and violence against anyone in the society