UAE Bans VPN, Using It Could Get You In Prison

It seems that stripping its residents of internet rights is the next big thing. After China announced that Ad Block software will be banned starting September 1st, United Arab Emirates issued a number of laws, allegedly for the purpose of fighting cybercriminal, which basically prohibit anyone from using a VPNs (Virtual Private Networks).

Now, a bit about why people are using VPNs. VPN essentially reroutes your internet traffic, making your IP address to show like you’re browsing from another location. In other words, using VPN enables you to use services not available in your location (like using Spotify in countries which aren’t supporting it), break through internet bans (like when Turkish president Erdogan banned social networks during the recent failed coup in Turkey, although he called the people to stand up to the army via FaceTime). Of course, criminals use VPNs in order to not get tracked, but in the most cases, VPNs are used by journalists and political activists living under oppressive regimes in order to not get tracked by their governments.

VPN Banned in UAE

But, the funny thing is that UAE banned VPNs, not for the reason of keeping track at their residents. No, VPNs are banned because, as said before, using them can get you circumvent the system and use services which are unavailable in your country. And people of UAE did just that. They used VPNs in order to use the VOIP features of many chat apps (like WhatsApp or Viber) since telecom companies (not all, just the biggest two) in UAE disabled the VOIP features for UAE residents because the feature made them losing money. It’s simple, you can talk with your family, friends, or anyone via the internet for free, not using the expensive international calling fees, which obviously didn’t suit not only the companies but also the government.

The most scandalous part is that not only residents are banned from using VPNs; all travelers, people working in UAE, and tourists also aren’t permitted to use them. When talking about fines, anyone using proxy or VPN can be fined between $136,000 and $545,000; oh, and you can even be imprisoned.

The law states that, “Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine of no less than Dhs500,000 ($136,000) and not exceeding Dhs2 million ($545,000), or either of these two penalties.”

Once again, liberal capitalism (which promotes free market by the way) is using its powers to prevent people from using resources that cost less (well, they don’t cost a dime), forcing them, in this case, to use expensive international calling fees. Remember, if you’re planning a trip to UAE, be sure to avoid using VPN, or else…

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