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Khaleej Times, Monday, Mar 13, 2023 | Sha'ban 21, 1444

‏ UAE: Is it illegal to use VPNs to make free calls?

Emirates: Question: I am reaching out to you as I am seeing many contradictory reports about my query. Are free calling apps allowed in the UAE? Am I allowed to use VPN for free calling apps?

Response: Pursuant to your queries, the provisions of Law No. 34 of 2021 Concerning to Combating Rumours and Cybercrimes (the ‘UAE Cyber Law’) and those of TDRA Regulatory Policy on Internet Access Management of 2017 (the ‘TDRA Internet Access Regulations) are applicable.

In the UAE, the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) may not be considered as illegal if it is used in accordance with the guidelines of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (the ‘TDRA’). The TDRA had mentioned in its statement in August 2016 that in the UAE, VPN may be used by companies, institutions and banks for internal purposes. However, use of VPN technology for illegal means and to commit a crime is serious offence in the UAE. This is in accordance with Article 10 of the UAE Cyber Law, which states: “Shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine not less than Dh500,000 and not exceeding Dh2,000,000 or either of these two penalties, whoever frauded a computer network protocol address by using an address belonging to a third party or by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery.’’

Further, Clause 1.9 of the TDRA Internet Access Regulations defines the term ‘Prohibited Content Categories’ and the same has been detailed in Annex 1 of the TDRA Internet Access Regulations. The said Annex 1 of the TDRA Internet Access Regulations mentions various list of internet contents which are prohibited in the UAE.

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