The Ministry of Interior, from the United Arab Emirates, recently warned individuals about the posting of video clippings or photos related to traffic accidents onto any social media platforms. This law was made in order to keep in view the respect for the feelings of relatives of those that were injured or killed in accidents as well as respecting an individual’s human dignity. The ministry released a statement saying, “It is deemed an irresponsible behavior and lack of a positive spirit among the citizenry. It is also a violation of the law.”

They then reiterated, adding, “The circulation of these images is unacceptable as it can cause a psychological shock to parents when they view such images,” The ministry stated that doing so is contrary to the values of the UAE that are derived from the Islamic concept of tolerance.

The ministry also informed the public that anyone who indulged in this undesirable behavior by posting such photos or videos onto social media would face stringent action. This announcement was brought on after images from a traffic accident that occurred in Ajman at a McDonald’s restaurant were trending widely on various social media sites.

In the accident, two individuals were killed, while there were five other individuals injured. After a motorist suffered from an epileptic fit, the accident occurred, causing him to lose control of his vehicle in the parking lot of McDonald’s and plowing into the restaurant’s glass walls, hitting several patrons.

The Ministry of Interior’s director of the security media department, Major Fawaz Ali Abdullah, stated that the police authorities were willing to disclose the information around the circumstances of the incident in a credible and transparent manner without delaying after the necessary investigations had been completed. The official also stated he was rather shocked to see that individuals had filmed and posted videos and taken pictures of the incident, sharing them on social media.

The police were hard at work to investigate the incident and determine the cause so they could take any necessary action while several individuals were acting irresponsibly by posting details about the accident, the officer said.

The UAE, as well as all of the other Gulf states, all have rather strict laws that govern the use of social media in their country. It was recently reported that anyone who is harming or defaming others, or invading another person’s privacy through social media could be punishable by a one-year prison sentence as well as a fine of up to SAR 500,000, which is equivalent to $133,324, within Saudi Arabia. The statement also said that it is a violation of the law, and the UAE government will take action against individuals that are caught posting any of these types of videos or pictures on social media websites.

Care should be taken when you are posting any type of photos of other individuals online, especially onto social media sites. The Cyber Crimes Law, the Federal Law No 5 of 2012, also made it an offense when using any type of IT in order to breach the privacy of anyone else, which would include taking photos of anyone else, or publishing/displaying these photos. It is also an offense to transmit another individual’s photo without their consent due to the UAE Penal Code, also known as the Federal Law No 3 of 1987. Lastly, the Copyright Law has stated that if there is not an agreement to the contrary, any individual that takes a photo of another individual is not allowed to publish or distribute that photo without having the consent of the individual that appears in the photograph.

Several residents that spoke to Gulf News stated that they were already aware of what legal implications await those that share videos and images of others without their prior consent. An engineer from Palestine, Rama Mohiddin, 22, stated, “Publishing such pictures is not acceptable, because it is a form of disrespect for the victims and their families,” adding, “When I was in school, my teacher’s son had a very severe accident in which the car was split in half. I was in deep pain when I first saw the picture, and I couldn’t even imagine what my teacher’s reaction would be if she saw such a picture.”

A 22-year-old HR officer from Jordan, Ibtihal Khaleel, stated that they agreed with the laws from UAE on sharing such gruesome photographs and videos; she said, “I found out about the regulations when the police issued a warning following the heavy rain in the UAE last winter. These rules are relevant because many social media users tend to post very scary and disrespectful pictures without thinking of their effect on others.”