Use of Win 10 ‘middle-finger’ emoji could lead to jail, fines in UAE: report
Lawyers, police urge residents to refrain from using symbol
Use of Microsoft's controversial "middle-finger" emoji, available in the forthcoming Windows 10 OS, could land UAE residents in trouble with the law, 7-Days reported, citing legal and police sources.
The Dubai daily cited a "senior Dubai Police official" as warning residents to "be careful of what you send on smartphones or emails".
Display of the middle finger has long been illegal in the Emirates and carries penalties of up to three years in prison and a AED500,000 fine, according to criminal defence lawyer Abdullah Yousef Al Nasir.
Emojipedia, a website that monitors changes to the available roster of emojis, notes that the finger icon was approved as part of Unicode 7 in 2014. However, Microsoft will be the first OS vendor to make the symbol available to users.
But Al Nasir said use of the offensive emoji could lead to prosecution.
"Sending a middle finger emoji on a smartphone or even sending a middle finger picture through email can put you in trouble," he said, adding that expats would likely be deported for the transgression.
While the law would require a formal complaint to be lodged with police before action was taken, such cases are taken very seriously by authorities.
"It's up to the recipient to open a criminal case if they feel offended by a message," said the senior police spokesman. "It's an insult in the UAE and the law can punish someone committing such act."
"With the development of technology, people have started insulting others on social media using services like WhatsApp or BlackBerry messenger," Al Nasir said. "Some people insult or mock others thinking nobody can prosecute them. But the UAE has issued a cyber-crimes law to punish anyone committing any crime like insulting someone using technology."