Following several months of promoting an app as a tool to help authorities control cybercrimes in the country, Emirati government Twitter accounts have increased promoting the app "My society is safe" by calling on users to report anyone who voices out their critic of the government decisions; particularly as the UAE publicly announced full diplomatic ties with Israel last Thursday.
#تطبيق #مجتمعي_آمن من #النيابة_العامة_الاتحادية والذي يهدف الى #المشاركة_المجتمعية في توفير الحماية للمجتمع من #الجرائم_الالكترونية .— النيابة العامة (@UAE_PP) August 15, 2020
للتحميل المباشر تجدون الرابط في الأسفل https://t.co/pph0cDKA3S… pic.twitter.com/fSiiKkxVWp
Translation: "A safe app provided by the public persecution office which aims to encourage social participation in protecting society from cybercrimes."
The Emirati app linked directly to the public persecution office allows a feature to report cybercrimes and other "violations" such as criticizing decisions taken by the leadership.
Since Thursday, several officials Twitter accounts have been urging citizens and residents of the UAE to help locate anyone, whose social media posts express anything but the full agreement with the country's policies.
تطبيق أمين و بلّغ النيابة و مجتمعي آمن ...رح أبلّغ على من يُلمح مجرد تلميح بالاساءة لوطني و هو مبرطع في خيرات بلادي!! نرجعه على بلاده يحررها— المرأة الإستثناء (@latifa_almulla) August 15, 2020
Translation: "It's such a safe app to report to PP office to create a safe society. I'll report anyone who makes the slightest hints about my country while they live off its wealth. We'll send them back to their country so they liberate it."
Many social media users widely shared videos guiding people on how to use the smartphone application that is available for both IOS and Android users, expressing their support for the Emirati government to silence anyone who lives in the country but disagrees with its foreign policies.
اتمنى من الجهات المختصة عندنا تتبع التغريدات لبعض المقيمين على ارض الدولة لاعتراضهم على سياسة الدولة وأبعادهم عن هذه الأرض لأنهم سيشكلون خطر على امن الوطن.— ?? حمـد الحـوسنـي (@Hahosani) August 14, 2020
Translation: "I hope authorities follow up with tweets posted by some residents who don't agree with the state's policies and deport them because they pose a threat to national security."
Meanwhile, other online commentators found the video-promotion "disturbing," saying that it shows "no respect for freedom of speech in the country always striving to paint itself as a modern Middle Eastern hub."
If oppressive regimes intend to release apps where citizens can report dissent straight to the authorities, these should be a prime target for cyber attacks. Denial of service or release of users' idenitites would do the job. https://t.co/tgSiMc11Ib— NeutralObsrvr20 (@NObsrvr2020) August 16, 2020
Oh wow! He must have just took it down after he saw these responses.— Alex Shams (@seyyedreza) August 16, 2020
This was the video he posted: https://t.co/vmBcKwEJlt
He wrote in the tweet specifically about reporting any comments that criticize UAE government policies or are "anti-Semitic" (i.e. meaning anti-Israel)
In 2012, the UAE government introduced laws that prohibit any form of criticism towards "the national rulers and speech that may create or encourage social unrest," despite the right to freedom of speech being acknowledged by the constitution.
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