Cyber crimes

Muna Al Fuzai
Muna Al Fuzai

The rates of crime overall in Kuwait is on a downward trend. This is not the case, however, when one considers e-crimes despite the existence of a tough law punishable by imprisonment or large fines! How do we face cyber-crime? The Internet is accessible to everyone including the ignorant and educated without any restrictions. This has led to a rash of what have been labeled e-crimes in the region including online blackmail, insults and electronic thefts. As a result, the GCC states including Kuwait and the UAE have issued e-media or cyber crime law aimed at tackling such concerns. However they also repress free speech.

Government statistics in 2015 revealed the types and numbers of cyber crimes committed in Kuwait including 1212 cases total of which 305 were registered against users for cursing and making insults through chat programs and social media. Sixty five cases were registered for vice, 49 cases of theft (the hacking or stealing of Twitter and Facebook accounts) , 296 cases of misuse of means of communication, 55 cases of threats and blackmail, 46 cases of theft, contempt of religions and sects contempt and four cases where users were in violation of military law issues, 27 cases of scamming, five death threats, seven cases of inciting hatred against a class of the society, 40 cases of plagiarism and gatherings without a permit, 114 cases of incitement to immorality and debauchery, and 14 cases of broadcasting false news as well as other cases with unlisted ‘crimes’.

This suggests we are seeing a rise in electronic crimes – or rather in reporting such as ‘electronic’ rather than just normal crimes of blackmail, insult or scamming and theft. Interior Ministry statistics reported that some crime rates have experienced a decline during 2015, falling 9 percent from 2014 figures. Drug offenses have decreased at a rate of 17 percent in addition to the lower rates of the number of registered cases, while the electronic crimes increased by 20 percent, the new crimes on society. Of course since we didn’t really have ‘cyber’ crimes as an option 10 years ago all of the above would have been classed within the other types of regular crimes and so the rise is hard to accept on its face value.

But I think that the biggest obstacle comes when applying the new e-media law in practice. It’s a modern law for crimes that are unusual and not like any of the daily crimes that people are already familiar with. We have to educate people about electronic crimes, so I still think it’s important to focus on educating people especially young people and children of the seriousness of the matter and the penalties that await any of these in the event of misuse of social media.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
[email protected]

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