Dubai Police has been cracking down on social media accounts for quite some time. The reasons provided by the authorities are varied, from online harassing and blackmailing to defamation. During the course of this year, Dubai police has shut down a total of 15 Twitter and Facebook accounts so far. These accounts were reported to the respective social networks who then had them removed.
The problem with this kind of action is that it not always clear why the police is taking action. Authorities may do so for purely political or religious reasons and this may directly affect the freedom of speech online.
According to head of Electronic Crime Division in Dubai, “One major case involved hackers who broke into girls’ accounts and emails and downloaded their pictures. They then used them to blackmail them for money or sexual favours.”
Whereas cracking down for such reasons is definitely desirable, it is not so in many other cases. It has been revealed in the past that Dubai police monitors social media to keep tabs on any such activity which may be contrary to the wishes or likeness of the present regime. And if they find any such activity online, the involved users are punished.
When this was first known, Dubai police tried to play ignorant and stated, “We are not concerned with people’s private lives and we do not routinely monitor people’s accounts. We respect people’s freedoms.” But later, a Twitter user was arrested simply because he criticized some unjust practices by the country’s security forces. Dubai Chief of Police has personally been involved in silencing a number of critics.
Source: The National
Courtesy: The Next Web