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Law and social media

18 February, 2023Categories: LowBrandingComments: 0

The world is living in an era of rapid communication and continuous interaction, where social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. These platforms offer opportunities for communication and social interaction, but at the same time, they pose legal challenges that require attention and protection. The spread of such crimes can lead to an increase in criminal behavior and can sometimes serve as a suitable place for planning and promoting crime and extremism.

In this article, we will explore the challenges that the law faces in the era of social media and how to provide the necessary protection for users (especially in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) across all categories, whether they are individuals, entities of commercial nature, or entities of general moral status (such as governments, for example).

Here, we will make an effort to categorize these crimes into two main groups:

1. Crimes that target individuals or specific entities.
2. Crimes with a public impact that affect all segments of society with various categories and classifications.

Some of the most prominent and varying severity crimes on social media platforms that threaten the security of society and its individuals include terrorism, spreading rumors, defamation, slander, false accusations, and public humiliation, among others.

Legislation and government laws have typically created general and flexible templates to describe these crimes and their penalties. Subsequently, executive regulations, which are more detailed, explanatory, and comprehensive, are developed to complement these laws.

In this article, we will focus on discussing the most prominent criminal actions on social media and the measures taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to combat and prosecute these crimes, regardless of the nature of the perpetrator or their ability to evade or use stealthy methods. Several of these crimes have been detected and apprehended, and deterrent penalties have been imposed by judicial and executive authorities.

When discussing a crime or a problem and addressing it, it is essential to describe it, understand its causes, dimensions, and risks, and analyze all of this to determine the role of measures that reduce the recurrence or spread of these crimes, ensuring the stability and security of society.

It is important to note that listing all of these crimes and discussing their causes in a single article is practically impossible. However, here, we will provide some guidance and preventive measures for social media users to mitigate their impact.

So, what are the most infamous crimes on social media platforms at both the public and private levels in Saudi Arabia? Within the scope of our research, there are no official studies or reports that indicate the most famous crimes on social media platforms at both the public and private levels in Saudi Arabia. Nonetheless, some crimes are widely circulated in the Kingdom, such as fraud, forgery, defamation, slander, insulting others with derogatory language, and sexual harassment. These crimes seem to be the most prominent based on public opinion and some sources.

 

The reasons that drive people to commit such crimes on social media are diverse and complex. Here are some common reasons:

1. **Desire for Revenge:** Some individuals resort to committing crimes on social media platforms as a means of seeking revenge.

2. **Financial Gain:** Financial fraud, for instance, can be a motivation as it provides the opportunity to hide one's identity and engage in illegal activities.

3. **Satisfying Human Desires:** People may engage in illegal or forbidden activities to satisfy their personal desires, even if they are unethical or unlawful, such as in cases of sexual harassment.

4. **Seeking Attention and Popularity:** Some individuals aim to gain attention, popularity, or fame by spreading false or misleading information, promoting rumors, or disclosing personal details of individuals without relying on credible and legally acceptable sources.

5. **Promoting Personal Agendas:** This includes advocating against a particular religious, ideological, or belief system, spreading harmful ideas, and inciting extremism, which may fall under the category of terrorism.

6. **Revenge and Defamation:** Some individuals resort to social media to take revenge on others by publishing insults, slander, defamation, and more.

 

Saudi Arabia has taken a number of measures to combat crimes that occur on the internet, including the diverse range of crimes committed through social media. These measures naturally encompass various strategies, including raising awareness through various media outlets about the seriousness of these crimes and urging the public to combat them. They also involve warning the community to safeguard their information's confidentiality and not to tolerate its dissemination, as well as the fraudulent methods used by perpetrators of these crimes. Additionally, guidance has been provided to those affected by such crimes, outlining the necessary procedures for reporting them. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has issued several laws, regulations, and instructions aimed at protecting society, addressing information crime, and the resulting consequences and penalties for committing them. These are among the systems that have been put in place to combat these crimes.

 

The System for Combating Information Crimes, issued under Royal Decree No. M/17 on 8-3-1428 AH, and its amendments, is a comprehensive system that defines information crimes and the corresponding penalties. This system aims to reduce information crimes, enhance information security, protect rights related to the legitimate use of computers and information networks, safeguard public interests, ethics, and public morals, and protect the national economy. The penalties for information crimes are outlined within the specified minimum and maximum limits, depending on the seriousness and impact of the crime. Notably, one of the amendments added by Royal Decree No. M/54 on 22/7/1436 AH allows the court to publish the judgment and penalties in a local newspaper or other suitable media at the convicted person's expense.

The Personal Data Protection System, issued under Royal Decree No. M/19 on 9-2-1443 AH, is aimed at safeguarding the privacy of users and their data. It includes definitions related to personal data, the regulation of dealing with personal data, and conditions for obtaining it. The system also outlines stringent penalties for violations of personal data protection.

The Communications and Information Technology System, issued under Royal Decree No. M/106 on 2-11-1434 AH, governs the telecommunications sector. It specifies licensing requirements, service provider obligations, the duties of the Communications and Information Technology Commission, measures to protect user information and confidential data, and provisions for violations and penalties.

 

For your information, these systems are fundamentally built upon adapting or modifying their descriptions to align with the elements of the crimes mentioned in the criminal laws. This alignment forms the cornerstone for criminalizing actions and is an integral part of these systems aimed at combating various internet crimes in general, and social media-related offenses in particular. These systems include regulations and guidelines issued by the National Cybersecurity Authority, as well as other systems such as the Electronic Transactions System, the system addressing penalties for disseminating confidential documents and information, the Criminal Procedures System, the Anti-Money Laundering System, the Anti-Drug System, the Anti-Counterfeiting System, and other systems related to public security.

In addition to the aforementioned laws and regulations, the Saudi government supports a variety of governmental entities that collaborate and coordinate efforts to combat these crimes, such as:

Ministry of Interior: The Saudi Ministry of Interior deploys various security agencies and entities to combat internet-related crimes. These include the State Security Agency, General Investigations, and General Security, each with its departments and centers across the country.

Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT): MCIT plays a crucial role in this mission by utilizing specialized units to combat internet crimes, such as the Cybersecurity Unit.

Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC): CITC has the authority to block websites that violate laws and regulations.

Ministry of Media: This ministry plays a significant role in educating and raising awareness among the public to combat these crimes. It also supports relevant laws and regulations to facilitate its mission.

The government has also established various means for reporting these crimes, such as:

 

You can report cybercrimes by using the following contact methods:

Cybercrime Reporting Phone Number: 00966114908888 – 1909

You can also report cybercrimes via the following email address: info@pv.gov.sa

What is the role of the community at the individual and institutional levels in reducing the spread of these crimes and combating them?

It is of utmost importance for the community to be aware of the risks associated with crimes that occur on the internet, the preventive measures to ensure safety and reduce their prevalence, and the necessary actions to take if they occur. This will enable the integration of government entities with civil institutions and individuals, allowing everyone to live in security and peace. Here, we will discuss some general guidance on preventive measures to avoid these crimes and the necessary actions to take regarding them.

We should always bear in mind the principle of perpetual skepticism when dealing with information we encounter on social media. The default assumption should be that it's inaccurate until proven otherwise. We need to enhance our skills in evaluating sources and information.

Take the necessary technical precautions to protect our personal data and avoid underestimating or compromising it by sharing when using devices to access the internet, including office computers, laptops, and mobile phones. This includes not disclosing or providing full names, phone numbers, documents, bank account information, or credit card details.

Download and install anti-spyware programs on computers to protect them from intrusion.

Keep software and operating systems up to date at all times.

Avoid storing sensitive data on your computer.

Encrypt sensitive data and use strong passwords.

Choose strong, non-guessable, and unbreakable passwords.

Take the initiative to report suspicious content to the relevant authorities for verification and action if necessary.

Social media platforms must bear a greater responsibility in preventing the spread of such crimes and combatting them by implementing educational and awareness programs for the community and developing effective filtering mechanisms.

Internet service providers should commit to implementing preventive and protective measures for the same purpose.

 

In conclusion, we hope that we have shed some light on various methods and measures to combat internet crimes in general and crimes that occur on social media platforms in particular. It is our aim that these insights contribute to preventing these crimes and reducing their prevalence.

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