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You will be fined up to $545,000 if you get caught using VPN in UAE

If you are in UAE and trying to access an unauthorized network, think again, as the consequences might be very unpleasant to say the least. President of United Arab Emirates has recently issued a new series of federal laws regarding cyber crime which prohibits anyone to use a VPN through unofficial means.

The modified law states that users could be fined between USD 136,000 to USD 545,000 and face imprisonment if found guilty of using Virtual Private Network (VPN) illicitly.

A UK based VPN and privacy advocate private internet access has now changed the law to include those who use VPNs to access blocked internet services. It allows UAE police to get their hands on anyone who tries to access an authorized IP address through unfair means. Initially, this law was only applicable to those who committed an internet crime.

Using VPNs to blur regional restrictions

VPNs allow users to maintain privacy by changing location settings when connected to a private network. Thus, giving them access to certain content and demolish regional boundaries as Netflix US is frequently accessed by users in other countries. Others bypass state censorship in a few countries on services such as Facebook, Twitter or other pornographic websites. These VPNs are also used along with Tor anonymity network to access hidden websites as well.

UAE imposing stringent policies to regulate VoIP apps

A large population in UAE is currently utilizing VPNs to access popular apps that are strictly regulated in the Gulf region such as WhatsApp, Snapchat and Viber. These services are operational through voice over IP technology as they are primarily messaging and voice apps that are available for free on internet.

The emergence of VoIP “over-the-top” apps has been a nightmare for telecom operators globally as consumers don’t have to pay any calling charges. They can simply dial for free on Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber or Snapchat.

UAE government is the only government to regulate these services in their effort to protect the revenue of their telecom operators as they are losing a major chunk due to these VoIP apps.

Etisalat and du are the only two organizations in the world with official license to provide commercial VoIP services but their rates are quite high.

There has been a lot of criticism on this stringent law imposed by the UAE government and on these telecom operators for blocking these free services.

However, UAE telecom regulators are paying no heed as they are firm on their stance that these apps should be banned for public due to rising security threats globally.

Source: ibtimes.co.uk / image: Reuters

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