There's no restriction on the legal use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) in the UAE, but those who misuse it for crime and fraudulent purposes will be held accountable, the Telecom Regulatory Authority has clarified.
The VPN use for economic and commercial purposes that are consistent with UAE laws are not restricted, the authority said after reports on the use of VPN in a section of media.
The authority said: "There are no legislations in the country that obstruct the economic movement or the work of local or international companies based in the UAE."
The statement by the authority is in response to enquiries it received from companies or institutions.
The TRA assured businesses and the public that it is fully committed to the safety and the smooth flow of economic activities for UAE-based companies and institutions, highlighting that there are no regulations which prevent the use of VPN technology by companies, institutions and banks to access their internal networks through the Internet.
However, business users can be held accountable, like the use of any other technology, if it has been misused.
Referring to a recently issued amendment on the Federal Law No. 5 of 2012, the 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.
The authority has urged to read the actual violation mentioned in the law; which says: "Using a false IP address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery," in order to understand the law correctly and where the punishment is exclusively linked to the mentioned fraudulent act and the intent to commit a crime or prevent its discovery.
Commenting on what has been circulated by some of media about the VPN, Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Director-General of the TRA, said: "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.
"It is also included in the strategic directions of the UAE, particularly in our national Vision 2021, which aims to make the UAE one of the best countries in the world - and clearly outlined as well in our national agenda and major programmes and projects that confirms the UAE's leadership in this field worldwide.
"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. It is known that the UAE is keen to embody the directions of the 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."
The TRA further emphasised that any misuse of the licensed and organised services in the UAE will lead to legal accountability.
It is worth mentioning that the laws are targeting those who misuse the services and not those activities that are consistent with UAE's laws.
By Haseeb Haider
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