UAE calls for stronger cybercrimes laws

Experts at the International Cybercrimes Conference in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday said international cooperation would help catch offenders.

Professor Monica Whitty of Leicester University speaks at the 5th International Cyber Crime Conference in Adnec, Abu Dhabi. Fatima Al Marzooqi/ The National
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ABU DHABI // Officials from the Ministry of Justice have called for more stringent laws to tackle cybercrimes.

They said the UAE must also rely on international laws – which tend to be more comprehensive – to bring offenders to justice no matter their location.

Dr Omar Al Ghoul, a chief judge at the federal courts in Kalba, said the internet was causing legal and legislative issues, and that Emirati laws presented investigative difficulties.

Symantec, a United States information protection firm, found cyberattacks in the Middle East had increased.

Most incidents involved the use of a specific malware system that controls computer networks in the region. Several groups were found to have used the malware to target regional governments.

Mohammed Alhammadi, a legal counsellor at the ministry, said the Arab world was facing greater risks as its contacts with the world increased.

“We have to fill the gaps internally by issuing new legislations that can continuously regulate the UAE’s modernising and update of laws,” he said at an international cybercrimes conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

“Such types of crimes need an international cooperation that can establish methods of catching offenders by bilateral or multilateral agreements.”

Dr Al Ghoul said the biggest challenge in the UAE was the application of punitive measures.

“Not knowing who the offender is is a big problem because it can be difficult,” he said.

“Cybercrimes are transnational, and sometimes offenders are outside the state. So maybe countries could extradite them to the UAE. There should be a number of international agreements to regulate such issues.”

He said such cooperation could be conducted under the aegis of the United Nations or the Arab League.

Maj Rashid Lootah, the Dubai Police’s director of cyberforensics, said previous laws on cybercrimes were very limited.

“Nowadays, cybercrimes are worsening,” he said.

“They are much more tangible, so the punishment for such crimes should be adequate.”

He suggested international cooperation in collecting data and evidence in the field.

“Cloud computing is an issue we face,” he said. “We’re facing problems with equipment and systems that don’t store information if the crime is committed outside our borders, so the system should be able to store necessary data and information.”

With the Government moving steadily online, the risks are high. “Telecommunication companies should work with us to detect the offenders,” said Ahmed Al Dhanhani, the chief prosecutor at the State Security Public Prosecution. “Nowadays we use all these smart applications in all our transactions in the government, and we have a number of legislations working on taking into account these electronic means.”

He also said modernising and updating data was crucial.

Mohammed Al Kuwaiti of the National Electronic Security Authority said the challenges were legal and technological.

“We need to upgrade our systems and use the latest technologies available to find solutions to locate offenders,” he said.

“We’d like counsellors and experts to take this into account and international cooperation can help a lot. All government sectors should be involved in it.”

Mr Al Kuwaiti said society should be protected from terrorists and extremists.

“The UAE realised the dangers of these electronic threats in cybercrimes, so we look forward to developing laws to deal with them because anybody can reach any child in any home,” he said.

cmalek@thenational.ae