Is using a VPN in the UAE illegal?

The recent introduction of the Federal Law No. (12) of 2016 (“Amendment”) which amends the Federal Decree-Law No. (5) of 2012 on Combating Cybercrimes (“Law”) has sparked a debate on the use of virtual private networks (“VPNs”) in the UAE. Whilst the Amendment does not substantially alter the Law it has increased the fines which may be levied on a person using a VPN to commit a crime or circumvent its discovery.

A VPN is particularly important in the context of the transfer of sensitive data across shared networks. Large corporates with a global presence have an inherent need to be connected with international offices and as such the use of VPN is central to maintaining system integrity and security. Consumers also use VPNs to access content which is not locally available.

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