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Wed 3 Aug 2016 12:52 PM

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Watching TV streaming services with VPN could still result in prosecution - lawyer

Gambling online, viewing obscene materials and accessing media content not licensed for use in the UAE could also end in legal action, according to Clyde & Co lawyer

Watching TV streaming services with VPN could still result in prosecution - lawyer
Image for illustrative purpose only. (Getty Images)

Watching online TV streaming services in the UAE through a VPN could result in prosecution, it has been reported.

Gambling online, viewing obscene materials and accessing media content not licensed for use in the UAE could also end in legal action, according to a UAE lawyer who specialises in telecommunications and media law.

It follows a statement from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) that said UAE companies were free to use a VPN as long as the activity does not break the country’s laws.

Kellie Blyth, a senior associate at law firm Clyde & Co told Gulf News the laws on VPN use had not changed. “It was and remains an offence to use VPN to commit a crime, or to try to prevent its discovery,” she said.

“Previously, the potential fines ranged from AED150,000 to AED500,000. Now, they have been increased to any amount from AED500,000 to AED2 million. This is in addition to a potential custodial sentence, which existed previously.”

The confusion surrounding the impact of the law stemmed from “inaccurate reporting” by some foreign news websites, according to Blyth.

The use of streaming TV services such the French TV channel and Netflix US may be considered illegal in the UAE due to regional restrictions, said an IT professional.

“Some sites that can’t be accessed here aren’t necessarily blocked by the government,” a French expat who works in the IT industry told the UAE daily.

“The French TV channel for example is prohibited from broadcasting in this market by France. So effectively, when you access the channel using a VPN, you’re breaching the French law, not the UAE’s.”

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