Taking pictures or shooting a video of somebody without his/her consent is an assault on that person's privacy, according to the law.
The UAE law states it is a violation and can therefore be penalised.
This law was reinforced once again last week when the video of an official beating a van driver went viral minutes after the incident took place. The video instigated the arrest of the official.
However, his family has filed a case against the person who took the video and published it on grounds of invasion of privacy. The uploader has been arrested.
There is a good chance that the amateur cameraman was unaware of any wrongdoing. The success of visual content on social media websites encourages users to pick up the camera phone and register whatever interesting situation occurs, to then share it with the rest of the world.
However, it is not the first such case to appear in court. "Cases like these appear in the UAE courts from time to time particularly due to the developments in technology and its increased usage," said Hassan Arab, Deputy Managing Partner and Regional Head of Litigation at Tamimi and Company.
Article 378 of the Penal Code, which was last amended by Federal Law No 34 of 2005, explains when somebody is violating the law.
In the first part it refers to the registration of somebody's private life through "eavesdropping or recording or transmitting by any system of whatever kind any conversation held at a particular place or via the phone or any other set," or by "picking up or transmitting by any system of whatever kind a person's picture at a particular place.
"If the acts referred to in the above two cases during a meeting within the hearing or sight of the person attending, their consent shall be required," states the Article.
Secondly, when any material – legally or illegally obtained - of somebody's private life is published by any means, this is a violation as well.
"The same punishment shall be inflicted on any person who publishes through any means of publicity news, pictures or comments pertaining to the secrets of people's private or familial lives even if the same is true," states the Article.
The punishment for both violations as per UAE law is confinement for a period not exceeding seven years and a fine.
"There are several instances such as in personal relationships where a male partner after the relationship ends intimidates his female partner by informing to publish their pictures on social networking sites. Such an act falls under the scope of publishing a person’s private affair," explains Hassan.
Video recording and publishing a physical assault without the knowledge of the assaulter is likely to fall under the same violation category and be penalised.
Major General Khamis Mattar Al Muzinah, Acting Chief of Dubai Police, confirmed earlier that the person who filmed the incident can be held legally accountable, while urging the public to be careful while taking pictures and videos.
“It is not allowed for anyone to film others without the permission of the public prosecutor, or with the written permission of the person(s) who appear in the pictures. In this case it will be considered a violation of privacy,” he said.
Hassan commented: "At modern times in my view this law is highly significant in protecting a person’s private/family affair and one has to be mindful in respecting other’s personal affair."
[Image via Shutterstock]
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