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Tue 15 Jul 2014 09:36 AM

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UAE's TRA warns Twitter users about behaviour

Threats of violence, denigrating religions and disrespecting UAE all against the law

UAE's TRA warns Twitter users about behaviour

The UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has published a white paper on Twitter usage in the Emirates as part of ‘The UAE Social Media White Papers collection.

The series of awareness documents are designed specifically to highlight the legalities surrounding use of the most popular social networks in the Gulf nation.

Twitter has around 360,000 users in the UAE who post approximately 2.5m tweets per day, according to the TRA.

The laws of the UAE prohibit the publication of content that is "contrary to public morals, the principles of Islam and the social and moral welfare of the UAE or any content that contains irreverence towards Islam and any other heavenly religions", the TRA said in a statement.

Content must also respect "the UAE Government, its leadership, political institutions and ultimately the UAE's cultural heritage and social norms and customs".

The regulator warned against hate speeches and content that is threatening or contains "graphic or gratuitous violence or any content that is [offensive to] a nation or its government". It urged users to think carefully about the content they are posting as they are responsible for it, even if they do not own it. Also, users must not publish other people's private information without their consent.

In September 2013, Rebecca Kelly, partner at legal firm Clyde & Co, authored a document titled, "Defamation and social media in the UAE".

In the document, Kelly wrote: “Defamation in the UAE is a criminal offence. [It] includes both oral and published statements, and will include any statement posted to a website which causes harm to the person the statement is about.”

Kelly's document highlighted a sharp rise in the number of defamation cases filed over the 12 months previous to her document's release and warned that social media "should not be treated differently to publication in newspapers, books or magazines when it comes to defamation".

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