A new law passed in the United Arab Emirates will now fine anyone caught using a VPN (virtual private network) to access blocked content, to a maximum of $545,000 USD. The new law doesn’t outlaw VPNs but they heavily regulate them to keep people from finding content the UAE doesn’t want them to find. The fines can be as little as $136,000 USD and as high as $545,000 USD and even prison is an option.
VPNs give users the option to connect to private networks all over the world and hide their exact locations using proxy servers and connections. These services make it very easy for those users to circumvent filters put in place by governments and ISPs in regards to their physical location. It’s fairly easy for someone in India to access content from America if the VPN shows that their computer is located in a place where that content is accessible. If they’re not using a VPN then the content would be blocked, I’m sure everyone has seen at least one YouTube video that says “This content isn’t available in your country.”
At the moment, a large number of people residing in the UAE utilise VPNs in order to access popular apps that are inaccessible from within the Gulf nation like WhatsApp, Snapchat and Viber, which are messaging and voice apps that make use of Voice over IP (VoIP) technology to deliver voice calls over the internet for free.
The United Arab Emirates has implemented these new laws to curb the use of these VoIP apps in order to bring business back to the local Telecomm companies. It appears these apps have taken a bite out of profits and the UAE aims to put a stop to that. It remains to be seen how well the UAE can actually enforce these laws, it may only take one or two fines or imprisonments to get the message across to users.
Etisalat and du are the only two companies in the world that have been granted licences by the UAE government to offer commercial VoIP services, which can be expensive, and rather than enable citizens and residents to have choice about what services they want to use, the government is assisting UAE’s telecom providers in upholding a monopoly on voice calls made in the country.
What do you think of the United Arab Emirates new VPN laws and fines? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.Source: IBT