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Is using a VPN illegal in the UAE?

The answer to this question is no. It is legal to use a VPN in the UAE for legitimate purposes, both personal and commercial. However, if someone is involved in illegitimate activities and uses network masking devices and software, including but not limited to VPNs, they will be subjected to severe penalties of imprisonment, a fine, or both.

In the UAE, the use of VPNs is particularly scrutinized, prompting questions about their legality. So, let us explore what VPNs can do and the underlying conditions that render their use illegal.

What can VPNs do?

VPNs cloak users’ real IP addresses, thereby providing anonymity and the capability to securely access geo-restricted content. This function is especially significant in the UAE, where the government restricts certain online content. VPNs can bypass these restrictions, making their legal status a subject of critical importance.

Legal framework in the UAE regarding VPN use

The UAE’s stringent internet regulations are designed to maintain public morality, national security, and prevent cybercrime. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) clearly states that while the use of technology must align with national and moral security standards, the deployment of VPNs in itself is not illegal. However, the UAE’s Cybercrime Law (2012) provides specific contexts where using VPNs can be considered against the law.

What is the punishment for using a VPN in the UAE for illegal activities?

The legality of VPNs in the UAE does not revolve around the technology itself but rather the intent behind its use. It becomes illegal if used to commit a crime or to hide the commission of one. Activities such as accessing gambling sites, viewing content deemed pornographic by UAE standards, or promoting ideologies that are banned in the UAE through a VPN are prosecutable offences.

This is highlighted in Article (10) Circumventing the Information Network with the Intention of Committing a Crime of the Federal Decree-Law No. (34) of 2021:

“Whoever circumvents an IP Address through the use of an IP address of others or any other means with the intention of committing or to preventing detection of a crime shall be punished with temporary imprisonment and/ or a fine of not less than (AED 500,000) five hundred thousand dirhams or more than (AED 2,000,000) two million dirhams.”

Exceptions and legitimate uses of VPNs

Legally, VPNs are permissible within corporate contexts in the UAE, where they play a crucial role in data protection and confidentiality. The government sanctions the use of VPNs for securing corporate communications and data, provided they do not facilitate the breach of laws (TRA, 2021).

Implications for residents and visitors

Both residents and visitors in the UAE must understand the legal implications of using VPNs. Legal usage is strictly confined to lawful purposes, avoiding any activities that involve accessing or disseminating prohibited content. Understanding these nuances helps individuals avoid severe legal repercussions and ensures their use of VPNs aligns with the legal framework of the UAE.

Key takeaways

Whilst VPNs are not inherently illegal in the UAE, their misuse can lead to significant legal consequences. Users must exercise caution and remain informed about the legal boundaries of VPN usage. By adhering to local laws and regulations, individuals can utilise VPNs effectively and legally, safeguarding their privacy without violating UAE internet laws.

Davidson & Co. is your trusted partner for any legal issues in the UAE. We are a boutique law firm with a diverse portfolio in various practices, from Web3 and Digital Assets to Shipping, Real Estate, Arbitration, and DIFC Wills. Our team of lawyers is always ready to provide you with legal assistance.

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Is using a VPN illegal in the UAE?

The answer to this question is no. It is legal to use a VPN in the UAE for legitimate purposes, both personal and commercial. However, if someone is involved in illegitimate activities and uses network masking devices and software, including but not limited to VPNs, they will be subjected to

FIND OUT MORE

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