Dubai police to snoop social media sites

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Twitter has been used in other Gulf states as a means of broadcasting messages offensive to Islam (Image for illustrative purposes only).

Twitter has been used in other Gulf states as a means of broadcasting messages offensive to Islam (Image for illustrative purposes only).

Authorities in the UAE will implement round-the-clock monitoring of social media websites, a Dubai Police official said this week.

Websites such as Twitter and Facebook will be checked by anti-electronic crime teams in Dubai and other emirates, in a bid to crackdown on abuse and defamation, Major Salem Obaid Salmeen, deputy director of anti-electronic crimes at Dubai Police’s CID has said.

Quoted first on the programme Rouh Al Qanoon on Radio Noor Dubai, Salmeen said monitoring of these websites was not a violation of people’s personal freedoms, given that the information is already public.

He said electronic patrol teams would track “all topics and materials written and presented” on the websites, and any “violation of the law” would be considered abuse, and be punishable.

He added that Dubai police is equipped with the latest technologies in the field, which would allow its experts to find the source of the abuse. This would be held on a government server for 18 months, he said.

In recent months Gulf state's have instigated a crackdown on social media communications that are critical of regional governments, as well as those deemed blasphemous.

Earlier this year, Saudi authorities issued an arrest warrant for 23-year old journalist Hamza Kashgari after he posted messages on the site Twitter that were deemed as blasphemous of Islam. After travelling to Malaysia, Kashgari was extradited back to Saudi where he could now face the death penalty.

Similarly, Emirati citizen Saleh al-Dhufairi was arrested in the UAE last month after publishing comments on Twitter that criticised the Gulf state's security forces.

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