Tue 02-08-2016 14:26 PM

Telecommunications Regulatory Authority issues statement on the use of VPN to clarify media reports

DUBAI, 2nd August, 2016 (WAM) -- The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA, has announced that there is no legislation in place in the country that obstructs economic movement or the work of local or international companies based in the UAE. This comes in response to several inquiries the TRA has received from companies and institutions about information published in the media recently regarding the legality of the use of Virtual Private Networks, VPNs, in the UAE.

In a statement issued yesterday, the TRA said that it assures businesses and the public that it is fully committed to the safety and the smooth flow of economic activities for UAE-based companies and institutions, highlighting that there are no regulations which prevent the use of VPN technology by companies, institutions and banks to access their internal networks through the internet. However, the statement clarifies that business users can be held accountable, like the use of any other technology, if the system is misused.

Referring to a recently issued amendment to Federal Law No. (05) of 2012, the TRA noted that the law is not new in its essence and that the only changes were related to tightening the penalty or punishment for any violation. The TRA urged interested parties to read the actual violation mentioned in the law, which identifies: "using a false IP address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery", explaining that the punishment is exclusively linked to the mentioned fraudulent act and the intent to commit a crime or prevent its discovery.

Commenting on information circulated by some media about the use of VPNs, Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Director-General of the TRA, said, "The UAE is proud to be one of the countries that encourages investment and openness to ICT-based economic activities. This trend is embodied the UAE's history since the founding of the union in 1971. It is also included in the strategic directions of the UAE, particularly in our national Vision 2021, which aims to make the UAE one of the best countries in the world, and clearly outlined as well in our national agenda and major programmes and projects that confirm the UAE’s leadership in this field worldwide."

Al Mansoori added, "The leadership of the UAE in the field of internet applications and IT in general is contrary to what has been circulated by some media regarding the use of VPNs. It is known that the UAE is keen to embody the directions of the UAE Government’s wise leadership regarding smart transformation, including smart government, smart cities, Big Data, and the IoT, in addition to promoting investment, competitiveness and focusing on building a knowledge-based economy and society."

The TRA statement reiterated that any misuse of licensed and organised services in the UAE will lead to legal accountability. The laws target those who misuse the services and not those activities that are consistent with the UAE’s laws.