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An official from the Department of Cybercrime at Dubai Police said the police handled 1,820 cybercrimes in 2015, 239 more than 2014.

Following up from its “My Number, My Identity” campaign launched back in June 2012, the TRA called on users to “reregister their SIM cards before documents expire” to avoid cancellations.

Due to these broad laws and a judiciary that lacks independence, nonviolent opposition activists are sometimes targeted under laws designed for terrorists and cybercriminals.

For example, activist and academic Nasser Bin Ghaith has been detained since August 2015 for, among other charges, “committing a hostile act against a foreign state” after tweeting about Egypt’s unfair treatment of political detainees.

While broadband use is widespread, the country has one of the most expensive broadband rates in the world, with high-end subscriptions costing more than AED 8,000 (US,178) a year.

Cuts to undersea cables have disrupted internet access for Emirati users on several occasions, though government-instituted outages are not known.The authority was established in 2003 and is responsible for the management of “every aspect of the telecommunications and information technology industries in the UAE.” Its objectives include ensuring quality of service and adherence to terms of licenses by licensees, encouraging telecommunications and IT services within the UAE, resolving disputes between the licensed operators, establishing and implementing a regulatory and policy framework, and promoting new technologies.In March 2015, the TRA and Dubai police launched the “Digital Blackmail” campaign calling on users to report incidents of cybercrime and blackmailing, which are punished with up to ten years in jail.Meanwhile, both locals and foreigners were arrested or deported for social media posts, often in absurd circumstances.Recent reports revealed how security services have targeted 1,100 devices with sophisticated spyware, reinforcing fears among dissidents that they are being watched.

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