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UAE adopts stricter online monitoring

DUBAI: The UAE set stricter Internet monitoring and enforcement codes yesterday that include giving authorities wider leeway to crack down on Web activists for offenses such as mocking the country’s rulers or calling for demonstrations.
The new UAE codes — posted on the official news agency WAM — raise questions about potential new red lines for the country’s huge expatriate work force in which parodies and pointed criticism of the UAE are common fodder on websites. It’s unclear, too, whether the codes could put a chill on media coverage of sensitive issues such as the rising profile of hard-line factions.
Many of the codes in UAE’s updated Internet law focus on issues such as online fraud, privacy protection and efforts to combat prostitution.
But a major section spells out sweeping limits and possible prison terms for any posts “to deride or to damage the reputation or the stature of the state or any of its institutions,” including the rulers and high officials across the UAE.
It also outlaws “information, news, caricatures or any other kind of pictures” that authorities believe could threaten security or “public order.” These include Web posts calling for public protests or “disobeying the laws and regulations of the state.”
The new codes said jail terms are possible for any Internet posts that “display contempt” for Islam or any other faith.

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