Swearing on WhatsApp in UAE could result in a fine, jail time or deportation

Man faces $68,000 fine or jail for swearing on WhatsApp under UAE cybercrimes law

Man faces $68,000 fine or jail for swearing on WhatsApp under UAE cybercrimes lawRageaholics, beware: United Arab Emirates has passed laws against swearing, be it online or in person, and that includes F-you emojis.

According to a new UAE federal law, swearing at others online could get you slapped with a hefty fine and tossed in jail. If you’re an expat, you could be deported.

Emirates247 reports that the Federal Supreme Court earlier this week overturned two lower court sentences that had fined a man Dh3,000 (about $800 or £500) after he was convicted of swearing at a colleague on WhatsApp.

The convicted man, whose nationality wasn’t stated, was prosecuted after the colleague told police that he’d been sworn at and that he’d been threatened, 7DAYS reports.

The court papers don’t state what the allegedly threatening, swearing message said, only that it contained “insulting words” and had been found on the victim’s mobile phone.

The defendant denied the charges and was cleared of threatening his colleague, but he was convicted twice on the swearing charges.

A prosecutor appealed the earlier, lighter fine, arguing that it was too lenient. They say the man should face a Dh250,000 (about $68,000 or £43,000) fine or imprisonment.

The higher court agreed, and a retrial date is yet to be announced.

The law covers any online offences, not just swearing on the instant messaging app.

UAE police and lawyers warned last month that sending a middle finger emoji sign – such as the one featured in Microsoft’s new mobile operating system – could have the same repercussions of fines and jail or deportation under the same law.

Criminal defence lawyer Abdullah Yousef Al Nasir told 7DAYS that according to the cybercrime law, anyone who sends an offensive emoji or image online can be prosecuted:

Sending a middle finger emoji on a smartphone or even sending a middle finger picture through email can put you in trouble.

It's an insult in the UAE and the law can punish you with either jail of up to three years or a fine of up to Dhs500,000.

Image of WhatsApp courtesy of Twin Design / Shutterstock.