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Using VPN Connections: What Businesses in the UAE Need to Know

If you’ve been paying attention to recent IT news, you already know that the use of VPN connections in the United Arab Emirates is a touchy subject. A new law enacted in August 2016 outlawed the use of VPN services to access blocked services. And the punishment for breaking this law isn’t just a slap on the wrist. Users caught violating these laws may face fines up to $545,000 and even jail time.

VPN connections, which are used to allow users to connect to a private network from anywhere, are useful for online privacy. And they’re not all bad – a lot of businesses provide their remote employees with the ability to access proprietary networks or information securely.

But, the problem is that VPN connections can be used fraudulently. Because a VPN connection hides the user’s actual location, they can be used to access regional restrictions on content. For example, someone using a VPN connection in China might be able to access restricted services, like Facebook.

But, what happens to businesses in the United Arab Emirates who want to use VPNs for legitimate purposes, like protecting proprietary or sensitive data? Read on to find out.

Is VPN Use Entirely Illegal in the UAE?

Well, no. According to What’s On, the new law regarding VPN use in the United Arab Emirates applies to “whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address […] for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery […].”

The new law increases the monetary fine for what it defines as “criminal” use of VPN services, but it does not make VPN connections entirely illegal. However, it is important to remember that what constitutes “criminal” activity in the UAE may be broader than expected.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has gone on record (as reported by Gulf Business) as stating that “…there are no regulations which prevent the use of VPN technology by companies, institutions, and banks to access their internal networks through Internet.” But, that doesn’t mean that businesses can’t be held accountable for any misuse of VPN connections.

UAE Telecommunications Laws and VoIP Applications

So, how does the most recent law concerning VPN use affect businesses that use VoIP applications like Skype? Well, we’re glad you asked.

According to The National, the only two companies that have been granted licenses by the UAE government to offer VoIP services are Etisalat and du, so both businesses and individual consumers must go through these carriers if they wish to use VoIP services. Companies that wish to provide VoIP services to UAE residents also must coordinate with these two operators.

Learn More about International VoIP Services

Have questions about international VoIP services and restrictions? Contact an AVOXI VoIP specialist today to learn more.

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