Law forces name and shame website to close

DUBAI // A mystery resident who launched a Twitter account and website that named and shamed bad drivers and companies giving poor customer service has scrapped his campaign.

He removed accusing posts and incriminating photographs from the DubaiNameShame website and Twitter page yesterday and said that in future the sites would provide a news service.

The move came after it emerged that placing such complaints on the internet was illegal under the libel law, and those doing so could face jail.

The National yesterday reported that the anonymous man behind the campaign had warned followers who named and shamed that they could be breaking the law. The police and a lawyer confirmed that this was the case.

Hours later a message appeared on the website's home page saying: "Sadly due to an unforeseen UAE law it has come to my attention that publishing pictures of bad, inconsiderate drivers on the internet through Twitter or any other site is illegal, with this in mind and in order to ensure I follow and respect the laws of the UAE this site will now be closed while it is redesigned to promote news and events in Dubai and the UAE.

"I believe DubaiNameShame was making a positive impact into promoting safer driving but that said I also believe Dubai Police are undertaking some very good awareness programmes and initiatives that will lead to a safer environment for us all. I urge you all to report any bad driving directly to Dubai Police."

The Twitter account was renamed Dubai News & Views, and a message appeared saying: "Due to legal reasons we will not be able to tweet any further 'shame' tweets! Thank you for your support but from now on this account will be used for news."

The anonymous resident, who uses the Twitter handle "The law is the law - I must respect that."

A short while later he added: "I won't close down fully, I will respect the law and ensure I act without breaking it."

The resident had earlier said that he loved the UAE and the campaign was a genuine attempt to improve standards of driving and customer service.

His full identity remains a mystery, but he is a British Muslim in his mid-40s, married with two children, who works for a global telecoms group and has lived in Dubai for nearly 10 years.

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