Cyber crime

Since the invention of the Federal Law No: 2 of 2006, United Arab Emirates has been working hard to tackle cyber crime in the country.

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By  Dr Khalid Al Mehairi Published  November 11, 2007

Since the invention of the Federal Law No: 2 of 2006, United Arab Emirates has been working hard to tackle cyber crime in the country. The law is to protect the privacy of Internet users, information systems and online government information and documents.

The federal laws reflect the UAE Government's commitment to provide legal protection for internet-related investments and ensure that the legal system meets the challenges of the digital economy.

Following the institution of these laws, it is important for enterprises to understand the implications of the new legislation. As we race to take advantage of the benefits that new technologies are bringing, we need to build our knowledge of how legislation can support us in creating a secure cyber environment.

The new Federal Laws meet a number of international standards while at the same time extended the relevance of existing laws to the electronic domain. With the rising threat of cyber crimes, it is important to raise knowledge about the legal options that companies have in the event of any occurrences.

Technology is always advancing and it is a challenge for the laws to keep up with growth. The new laws represent a bold suggestion from the UAE government; for the implementation of these laws to be effective, it is critical for the corporate community to be aware of their implications. Only then will the efficiency of the laws be tested.

The law also states that the Internet and other cyber technologies are not to be used to blackmail individuals or to infringe on an individual's privacy by perpetuating information or publishing scandals.

The legislation now provides a good policy on which a more dogmatic framework is to be built. The aspects of e-commerce and electronic transactions such as privacy, jurisdiction, data protection, domain names and decency are not addressed in the law. The UAE Government needs to institute more cyber laws to fill gaps in the existing legislation so that the legal system is able to meet the needs of the developing digital economy.

One concrete example of computer-related crime is forgery, which is the creation of an instrument intended to be used to induce somebody to accept it as genuine. Computers might be used to make false documents and the UAE authorities are concerned about this problem, especially since the new law in the UAE concerning Electronic Transactions and Commerce aims to bring the status of electronic documents and signatures to the same level as the traditional ones.

The notion of application security is a constant race and developers are struggling to keep up. As more information is brought to our attention about the characteristics of computer software bugs and how they might be utilised against internet users, the same information can be used to track hackers down and as well as to discover other vulnerabilities in areas normally considered secure.

Even though programmes enforce some security measures during development, new spyware technology often far exceeds the best planning. Spyware now follows us into new technologies, such as Bluetooth.

When information was in material form on paper, it could be controlled by the nation. Each nation has an overload of laws and procedures for the paper-driven world. Nevertheless, information today is not physical; transactions and records are in electronic form yet concrete laws are still to be enacted for this paperless world.

Despite all the safeguards and a computer security budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, attempts have been made, to hack into high-profile companies, almost always through the Internet. Will cyber-laws prove a deterrent?

Surprisingly the popular approach to cyber-crimes is not one of disapproval. One can go so far as to say that there is a deference for these cyber-terrorists who successfully bring large companies ‘down on their knees'. Along with severe laws, we need to bring public tolerance of cyber-crimes to zero.

Dr. Khalid Al Mehairi is a Managing Partner & Attorney at Law for Emirates Advocates in Dubai.

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