According to a Gulf News report, spreading rumors using instant messaging services could land you in an Abu Dhabi jail cell.
The sentence for rumour-spreading is by no means a light one in the UAE – with convicted offenders facing up to three years in prison.
It would seem that the law applies primarily to mobile instant messaging services, since the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority announced that using BlackBerry, iPhone, and Nokia and any other instant messaging devices, as well as the use of SMS, to spread rumours is a clear violation of the law.
According to a statement from the TRA’s Director General, defamatory remarks, spreading lies, false information regarding fires, murders or other crimes, are all offences punishable by law. In addition, spreading rumours about merchandise, cancer-causing agents, or mentioning outlets carrying the merchandise is illegal.
The news has been met with some criticism on Twitter, with one user wondering just how far authorities will go to enforce it.