One in five girls in the UAE is a victim of online blackmail. Like everywhere else in the world, our young generation posts pictures and videos of themselves on social media platforms for entertainment purposes and other reasons. Little do they know that they are at the risk of being blackmailed. Cyber bullies hack into their accounts and use these pictures and videos to blackmail the girls into paying money or force them to provide sexual gratification. Due to the fear of embarrassment and the social stigma, these victims often give in to the blackmailer's demands and do not report the crime to officials.
Due to the increase in smart technology and the increased use of social media platforms, it has become far easier for criminals to exploit women. A recent study stated that there are almost 200 cases of blackmail in Sharjah alone, but this does not include the large majority of women who never reported that they are being blackmailed.
While in Dubai, the number of reported cyber crimes has quadrupled over the years according to a different study that was conducted at the start of 2016. Dubai’s police investigated around 1820 cyber crimes and this amount has tripled by the end of the year. At the same time, other states in the UAE such as Abu Dhabi and Ajman have also reported a substantial increase in cyber crimes.
What Does The Law State About Cyber Crimes?
The punishment of cyber crimes has been stated in the Federal law No. 5 of 2012. This provision states the different punishments for people who are guilty of blackmail. The following penalties are imposed by the law:
Fine of DH 250,000
Fine of 500,000
Prison sentence of up to 10 years
What Has The Government Done To Curb The Amount Of Blackmail Cases?
Due to the steady increase in blackmail cases, the Government has initiated different programs to help the victims. These programs protect the confidentiality of the victim and provide protection as well. Also, the government has launched a program to educate people, especially teenagers, about the dangers of posting personal information online.
Tips On How To Protect Your Information Online
The anti cyber crime unit has issued the following tips to help people avoid online blackmailing. These tips ensure that a person can enjoy the use of social media platforms and reduces the risk of information being stolen. These tips are:
Never post inappropriate pictures or send them to friends online
Religiously change passwords for online accounts
Do not post personal information online
Block any unknown users who try to contact you
Block spam emails
Don’t accept friend requests from unknown people
Finally, if anyone is facing any type of online blackmailing, they should not succumb to the requests of the perpetrator but should immediately alert the authorities. The authorities will handle the situation, keeping the victim’s confidentiality a top priority.