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This article was published on July 26, 2011


    Spreading rumours using IM services in the UAE could earn you a jail sentence

    Spreading rumours using IM services in the UAE could earn you a jail sentence
    Nancy Messieh
    Story by

    Nancy Messieh

    Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Fol Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Follow her on Twitter, her site or Google+ or get in touch at [email protected]

    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.