A virtual private network (VPN) allows individuals or companies to gain an additional layer of online security while at the same time people can access geographically restricted foreign content. However, the legality of your VPN use will depend on your online behavior.
Technically speaking, VPNs allow users to communicate with public or public networks as if they were directly connected to such networks. Multinational companies headquartered in multiple regions can use VPNs to connect to their international locations to add security features.
In short, when you use a public connection, VPN technology can create a private network by hiding your Internet Protocol (IP). IP is your public identity, so your online activities are nearly impossible to track. An important advantage is that compared to public Wi-Fi or secure hotspots, a VPN provides a secure connection and higher privacy.
Using VPN for personal and business purposes
While companies may have multiple protocols to keep data secure, VPNs may still be necessary, especially when companies around the world are taking telecommuting and social distancing measures. Since employees and offices are located in multiple regions, it is more important to transfer data over a secure and encrypted network.
Individual users connected to the Internet can access the VPN remotely from multiple locations, and once connected, they can take advantage of the security and resources available on the private network as if they were directly connected to a web server.
If you are using a VPN, will you be committing an illegal act?
Article 9 of Federal Law No. 5/2012 “On Combating Cybercrime”, as amended by Federal Law No. 12/2016, requires compliance with the basic elements for punishing anyone who commits crimes using VPN services, namely:
Use false addresses or third-party addresses to bypass the addresses of the computer’s network protocols; commit crimes or prevent their disclosure.
While earlier provisions of the Cybercrime Law provide for milder penalties, the updated provisions increase penalties.
However, neither the previous nor the updated articles themselves punish VPN use. To consider such use as illegal, the main test is to determine whether a crime has been committed or to prevent its detection. Article 9 provides for imprisonment and a fine of at least AED 500,000 but not more than AED 2,000,000.
Does this mean VPN is allowed?
The UAE telecommunications regulator recently made a public announcement on VPN use, confirming that there is no law prohibiting businesses, corporate institutions and banks from using VPNs to access their networks, provided such VPN technologies were not used.
The most important question is what will be considered abuse and therefore will be punished under section 9 of the Cybercrime Act. The essence of the law is to prohibit online behavior that threatens the community. Hence, if VPNs are used for legitimate purposes, using VPN alone will not be considered an illegal crime.
If a business is working remotely and the employer provides employees with VPN access for business continuity, the employer should still consider preventive measures when granting such access to employees, especially providing employees with a disclaimer that the VPN is for business only. Any abuse must occur at their own risk and consequences.
What is the best VPN to use in the UAE?
Below is a quick look at the best VPNs operating in the UAE
- IPVanish is a powerful and hidden VPN for the UAE. It is suitable for Skype and other VoIP services, has an emergency switch and DNS leak protection.
- NordVPN is a comprehensive VPN for the UAE. It’s safe, fast, and is known to unblock content for most ISPs, but is incompatible with Etisalat.
- ExpressVPN is a slightly more expensive option, but one of the best VPNs in the UAE. Has great privacy and unlock features.
- PrivateVPN is the cheapest VPN in the UAE. Starting at $ 1.89 per month, you can get a secure and private VPN perfect for unblocking.
- Surfshark is a comprehensive VPN for DU clients offering good speed and security. Please note that this is not the case for Etisalat.