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UAE: Is it illegal to use a VPN to make free calls? – information

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Using a VPN for illegal purposes or crimes is a serious offense in this country


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published: Sunday, March 12, 2023 at 11:12 am

question: I am contacting you as I am seeing many conflicting reports regarding my query. Are Free Calling Apps Allowed in the UAE? Can I use a VPN for free calling apps?

reply: Based on your query, the provisions of Law No. 34 of 2021 (“UAE Cyber ​​Law”) and TDRA Internet Access Regulation Regulation Policy, 2017 (“TDRA Internet Access Regulations”) on combating rumors and cybercrime are applicable.

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) may not be considered illegal in the UAE if it is used in accordance with the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (“TDRA”) guidelines. TDRA’s August 2016 statement mentioned that in the UAE, VPNs may be used by companies, institutions and banks for internal purposes. However, using VPN technology for illegal purposes and crimes is a serious offense in the UAE. This is in accordance with Article 10 of the UAE Cyber ​​Law, which states: “Anyone who defrauds a computer network protocol shall be punished with imprisonment and a fine not less than Dh500,000 and not exceeding Dh2,000,000 or either of these penalties by using address belonging to a third party or in any other way to commit the crime or prevent its detection.”

Additionally, Section 1.9 of the TDRA Internet Access Regulations defines the term “Prohibited Content Categories” as detailed in Annex 1 of the TDRA Internet Access Regulations. Annex 1 of the TDRA Internet Access Regulations mentions a list of various Internet content prohibited in the UAE.

You can use a VPN to make Voice over Internet Protocol (“VOIP”) calls on free phone/video applications (apps). However, you cannot use a VPN to access TDRA-prohibited applications (apps) on the Internet to make VOIP calls. This complies with Articles 1 and 14 of Annex 1 of the TDRA Internet Access Regulations, which state:

“Article 1 – Passing and accessing blocked content:

This category includes Internet content that allows or facilitates user access to prohibited content, including proxy servers and virtual private network services (VPNs) that primarily allow access to prohibited content on the Internet. “

Illegal Communication Services:

This category includes Internet content that facilitates or allows access to illegal communication services pursuant to regulations or decisions of competent authorities. “

According to the above provisions of the TDRA Regulations, if you are using any application (app) in the UAE that prohibits VOIP calling via VPN, then your doing so may be considered illegal and may incur the above mentioned penalties under the UAE Cyber ​​Law. Additionally, using VPNs and VOIP for illegal activities in the UAE may be considered a crime, even through websites and applications (apps) that are permitted under UAE law. Therefore, you as an individual are required to use VPN and VOIP responsibly on websites and applications (apps) that are permitted by UAE law.

It would be prudent to verify that VOIP calls are legally allowed in the UAE using the relevant free calling application (app). For further clarification on this matter, you may consult a legal practitioner in the UAE or TDRA.

Ashish Mehta is the founder and managing partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practice in Dubai, UK and India. Further information on his company is available at: www.amalawyers.com. Readers can email their questions to: news@khaleejtimes.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.

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