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TRA denies harsh ‘skype penalty’

Locked up in Skype Jail

For a few hours, residents believed they'd be facing jail time for illegally using Skype.

May 12, 2013 5:24 by

This morning, Kipp was slightly perplexed to find that Skype had, yet again for the hundredth time, become a subject of great discussion in the United Arab Emirates. Okay, so the truth is that we were actually expecting it. Let’s face it, with the whirlwind of an experience we’ve had with VoIP services in the UAE, we wouldn’t put it past them to illegalise it once more.

It all began when a shocking Emarat Alyoum article was published; stipulating that the punishment of illegally (without a licence) using certain services on Skype, like making telephone calls, would lead to jail time and a fine of no less than Dh50,000 and no more than Dh1 million.

The article – published in Arabic, only to later be picked up by Emirates247 – states that violators would be subject to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority’s (TRA) amended Article 71 of the Telecommunications Act.

As always, the reactions were mixed, but primarily stemmed from confusion and disbelief. Kipp, for one, found it extremely suspicious, but not entirely unexpected. Well, much to our relief, a lot of the information in the article was false and inaccurate.

Could you imagine how congested those jail cells would be? Half the country would be locked up, we’d have horrible chores to do and the meals, don’t get me started on how starchy those prison meals can be.

According to emailed statements and three separate Twitter posts by the TRA, many of the facts in the article aren’t factual and Article 71 of the Telecommunications Act does not apply in this context.

“TRA did not state the mentioned penalties in the @emaratalyoum article.”

“TRA confirms that there are a number of factual inaccuracies in the @emaratalyoum article.”

“Reference to the @emaratalyoum article; the provisions of Article (71) do not apply in this case.”

Well, there you have it folks. As it turns out, we won’t be skinned alive for making a phone call or two.

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