Most people know that flicking the middle finger at someone in the UAE could land you in prison.
However, legal experts have now warned that sending an ‘emoji’ finger-flick gesture in a message or on social media could also land you in trouble.
Police and lawyers spoke issued the warning after it emerged that Microsoft will become the first manufacturer to give users the option to flip the finger on its latest operating system.
The new Windows 10 will feature the icon when it is launched in the coming months.
Making such a gesture in person in the UAE is illegal and can lead to fines or even jail.
And criminal defence lawyer Abdullah Yousef Al Nasir, told 7DAYS that according to cyber-crime law, anyone who sends an offensive emoji or image online could also be prosecuted.
He said: “Sending a middle finger emoji on a smartphone or even sending a middle finger picture through email can put you in trouble.
“It’s an insult in the UAE and the law can punish you with either jail of up to three years or a fine of up to Dhs500,000.”
He added that if an expat is convicted they will likely be deported.
However, Al Nasir said police would have to receive a complaint from the person the image was sent to in order to act, meaning one sent between friends in jest would not automatically land someone in trouble.
But he said users need to realise how seriously such an insult could be taken.
Al Nasir said: “With the development of technology, people have started insulting others on social media using services like WhatsApp or BlackBerry messenger.
“Some people insult or mock others thinking nobody can prosecute them. But the UAE has issued a cyber-crimes law to punish anyone committing any crime like insulting someone using technology.”
A senior Dubai Police official urged smartphone users to think before posting a message or image that could be offensive.
He said: “Be careful of what you send on smartphones or emails.
“It’s up to the recipient to open a criminal case if they feel offended by a message.
“It’s an insult in the UAE and the law can punish someone committing such act.”
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