The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) has directed social media users in general and parents in particular to avoid compromising their privacy on social media through the use of strong passwords, carefully reading the terms and conditions for granting permissions to smart phone applications, and reminding children not to accept friend requests from strangers.
The authority advised families to discourage children from sharing their geographical location, personal information and photographs on devices connected to the internet to protect them from blackmail.
During a seminar on blackmailing aimed at raising parents’ awareness on the risks of blackmail posed on children by the unsafe use of the internet in general and social media in particular, TRA advised mothers to use parental control applications and review games and applications before downloading them.
Ghaith Almazaina, Manager for Business Affairs at TRA’s Computer Emergency Response Team, explained that extortionists choose their victims based on posts and activities on social media which can inadvertently reveal personal information, financial status, and geographical location.
“It is very important to read the terms for using smart phone applications to ensure that permissions are granted only after careful consideration. These permissions can be controlled through the application settings which display access to personal data such as photos,” Almazaina said.
Unsafe technical practices
“Our main concern is the unsafe technical practices of potential victims such as using weak or predictable passwords which allow extortionists to easily access accounts; visiting suspicious websites; downloading hacked programmes that may contain malicious software; and not properly and thoroughly deleting phone data,” Almazaina added.
He emphasised the importance of protecting computer systems through regular updates to the operating system and anti-virus programmes, avoiding the unprotected storage of personal information on devices connected to the internet, and downloading programmes only from trusted sources.
He also invited parents to use parental control applications, review games and applications prior to downloading, and ensure that applications suit their children’s ages.
Media consultant Khalil Al Ali, senior officer at Al Ameen, spoke about the impact of social media applications to both national and personal security. He pointed out that irresponsible people stand behind various famous applications and use them to get information, data, photos and videos from users to serve their own interests.
He warned users to avoid using those applications without reading terms and conditions.
“We are suffering from cultural neglect within this field. Google as an example is allowed to collect and store users’ data, call logs of smart phones, SMS, and locate them as in the case of social media games especially live ones. He emphasized the importance of being aware of terrorist groups, which attract the youth and children through social media. The war these days is through websites and social media to win minds and change thoughts,” Al Ali said.
UAE law criminalises 52 cases related to social media
The law in UAE criminalises 52 cases related to social media including blackmailing, fraud, defamation, abuse of the country and many others, he noted.
He called on the audience to review the country’s laws through ‘UAE Legislations App’.
Abdulla Shukri from Al-Ameen service said: “Parents are responsible to warn their children and protect them from blackmailers, guide them on how to use social media positively, and educate them about the risks, so it is important to follow up with the children, discuss with them and educate them on rules using the internet to avoid interacting with strangers and those that post fake accounts.”
Boushra Qaad, Head of Child Protection in the Community Development Authority, explained Federal Law 3 for 2016 in UAE.
The law considers individuals below 18 years of age as a child. She emphasised that child abuse is an act that can harm the child and prevents him from growing safely and healthily. Neglect and ignorance of children’s health, education or safety is also preventing them from enjoying a safe and healthy childhood, she added.