▶ Le­gal and eas­ily avail­able track­ing gad­gets are be­ing used to keep tabs on the un­sus­pect­ing, break­ing UAE law

The National - News - - NEWS EMIRATES - RUBA HAZA

Stalkers us­ing track­ing de­vices to spy on oth­ers could face jail, a UAE lawyer said.

Peo­ple use the le­gal de­vices – de­signed to keep track of chil­dren, pets and even car keys – to in­vade the pri­vacy of fam­ily mem­bers, a re­tailer said.

Some gad­gets, us­ing lo­ca­tion-based ser­vices and global po­si­tion­ing sys­tems, have a range of only 10 me­tres while oth­ers use real-time track­ing.

The mis­use of such de­vices – avail­able in shops and on­line – could lead to at least six months in jail or a fine of be­tween Dh150,000 and Dh500,000, or both, lawyer Ali Al Ham­madi said.

“Track­ing peo­ple is an act pun­ish­able by law and it doesn’t rep­re­sent our cul­ture and tra­di­tions,” he said.

Track­ing de­vices can be found on­line with a price tag rang­ing from Dh15 to Dh1,000, de­pend­ing on the tech­nol­ogy. Some elec­tronic re­tail shops of­fer Blue­tooth track­ing de­vices for as lit­tle as Dh100.

One track­ing ser­vice busi­ness owner said cus­tomers fre­quently asked about de­vices that would al­low them to keep tabs on their spouses, de­spite cy­ber­crime laws that for­bid the sur­veil­lance of oth­ers.

“We re­ceive calls from peo­ple who want to use our ser­vices to track down their spouses and know their where­abouts but we don’t of­fer such ser­vices as it’s il­le­gal,” said Di­nesh Cor­rea, founder of Fal­con Track­ers in Dubai.

“Some peo­ple ask us to in­stall the de­vice in their cars to track the driver tak­ing their chil­dren to school but we also can’t ful­fil their de­sire.”

Mr Cor­rea said global track­ing fea­tures such as GPS, lo­ca­tion-based ser­vices and Wi-Fi de­vices can be im­ported into UAE only with ap­proval from the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity.

“We have re­stric­tions about us­ing our de­vices on per­sonal ve­hi­cles and we only in­stall them in ve­hi­cles owned by trad­ing, trans­port, tourism and car rental com­pa­nies and they should be in­stalled ac­cord­ing to the TRA’s spe­cific guide­lines,” he said.

Other, sim­i­lar de­vices are al­lowed, Mr Cor­rea said.

“Blue­tooth track­ers, which have a very short range – such as 10 me­tres – and the ac­tive RFID track­ers that can lo­cally track an ob­ject within a range of 50 me­tres, are both un­re­stricted de­vices and do not need any ap­proval from any depart­ment to be im­ported and used,” he said. Mo­hammed Bakkour, co-founder of Kid­guard, a smart­watch that uses GPS tech­nol­ogy to help con­cerned par­ents find their chil­dren, said it was not dif­fi­cult to track some­one, but he urged peo­ple not to do it.

“GPS tech­nol­ogy is now avail­able in our phones and in many de­vices,” Mr Bakkour said. “Mis­us­ing it is against the law. You can leave your phone in some­one’s car and track it or you can buy a GPS track­ing de­vice on­line and use it to track oth­ers.

“It’s not that dif­fi­cult but it isn’t worth the risk.”

Mr Bakkour said that more re­stric­tions should be put in place and peo­ple should be more aware of the con­se­quences of their ac­tions.

“Know­ing what would hap­pen if you use the de­vice in il­le­gal ways is the first step to pre­vent the mis­use of it, along with adding more re­stric­tions on sell­ing and buy­ing such de­vices.”

One ser­vice owner said cus­tomers in­quired about de­vices to keep tabs on their spouse

Reem Mo­hammed / The Na­tional

Some peo­ple are buy­ing car track­ers like this to check if their chil­dren are be­ing chauf­feured safely

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