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UAE watchdog says businesses can use VPN

The telecommunication watchdog of the UAE has said that there are no regulations in the country which prevent the use of virtual private networks (VPN) technology by companies, institutions and banks to access their internal networks through internet.


This comes after the media reports last month that the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued a number of special federal laws, including a regulation that bans anyone in the country from making use of such private networks or proxy servers.


The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) had received several inquiries from companies and institutions to confirm the news, the authorities said on Monday (August 2).


TRA stressed that there was no such law existing in the country that obstruct the economic movement or the work of local or international companies based in the UAE.


However, it warned that business users can be held accountable if they employ the technology, like any other licensed and organized services, for activities that are not consistent with UAE’s laws.


On July 22, state news agency WAM reported that Sheikh Khalifa has issued Federal Law No. 12/2016 amending Federal Law No. 5/2012 on combating information technology crimes.


The amended law said that “whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than Dh500,000 and not exceeding Dh2,000,000, or either of these two penalties.”


TRA noted that the law is not new in its essence and that the only changes were related to tightening the penalty or punishment for any violation.


Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Director General of TRA, said that the leadership of the UAE in the field of internet applications and IT in general, is on the contrary to what has been circulated by some media regarding the use of VPNs.


“The UAE is proud of being one of the countries that encourage investment and openness to ICT-based economic activities. This trend is embodied the UAE’s history since the founding of the union in 1971,” said Al Mansoori.


“It is known that the UAE is keen to embody the directions of the UAE Government’s wise leadership regarding smart transformation, including the smart government, smart cities, Big Data, and IoT, in addition to promoting investment, competitiveness and focus on building a knowledge-based economy and society” he added.