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Facebook Rant Lands US Man In UAE Jail 247

blindbat writes While back home in the U.S., a man working in the United Arab Emirates posted negative comments about the company he worked for. Upon returning to the country to resign, he was arrested and now faces up to a year in prison under their strict "cyber slander" laws designed to protect reputation.
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Facebook Rant Lands US Man In UAE Jail

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  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Thursday March 05, 2015 @10:45AM (#49188395)

    It's an old-school feudal state mixing in a little bit of a hot modern idea, corporate oligarchy. The businessmen and sheikhs (many of whom are related) run the place, and jailing foreign workers if they get inconvenient is one of their main tools to retain control. Usually you don't hear about it because most of the workers aren't from the USA.

    • by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Thursday March 05, 2015 @10:48AM (#49188425)

      UAE? Isn't that where they take your passport while you work there?

      • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Thursday March 05, 2015 @10:54AM (#49188477)

        Yeah, that's common across the region; Saudi Arabia does it too. Seems a bit unnecessarily old-fashioned, since with computerized passport control these days you could keep someone from traveling by just flagging them in the computer, no need to actually confiscate the passport. But maybe keeping the physical passport is a better intimidation tool?

        • by colin_young ( 902826 ) on Thursday March 05, 2015 @11:25AM (#49188775)
          It's not old fashioned. It allows a private corporation to restrict the freedom of their labor, while the government has plausible deniability and can turn a blind eye to the practice.
          • I never understood the whole 'take your passport' thing. I was under impression that if I show up at the US embassy, say that I am a US citizen, that my passport was forcefully taken from me, and I want to go home, they'll go through some checks and give me the documents I need to go back. No?

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          Seems a bit unnecessarily old-fashioned, since with computerized passport control these days

          You're assuming that escape from UAE will be on a flight through a border control.

          If you escape without passing through border control, having a passport will make it a damn sight easier to get INTO another country. The lack of an exit stamp from your last country might be a hassle at entry somewhere else, but a lot less of a hassle than not having a passport at all.

        • Slavery (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Ryanrule ( 1657199 )
          Its called slavery. Yes, it is old fashioned.
      • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

        I think you might be thinking of Qatar where it's been in the news more recently regarding domestic slaves er I mean workers. Employers confiscate the passports, overwork, beat, and or assault the workers, don't pay them, and when they become a issue turn them over to the government to deport. If they try to leave on their own, guess what...they don't have any paperwork so they are just as screwed as if they remained.

        http://www.theguardian.com/glo... [theguardian.com]

      • Kuwait also. Had to go there once upon a time (ten or eleven years back), they took my passport on arrival, and gave it back when they were ready to let me leave.

        Needless to say, I haven't been back, and have no intentions of ever going back.

    • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Thursday March 05, 2015 @10:52AM (#49188455) Homepage
      So just like America then?
    • Slander laws exist in almost every country, including the United States. And what the contractor said went beyond a simple rant - he implored other contractors not to work with the firm in question (thereby causing commercial harm to the company) and used racist language in his diatribe. If I went on a similar rant against an American company that resulted in a substantial loss of revenue for that company because of my allegations, I would very likely also be sued. The difference is that US courts have a hi
  • Two things (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Thursday March 05, 2015 @10:45AM (#49188397) Homepage
    1) Going to another country simply to resign is not the sanest action.

    2) We really need a clear International consensu that governments do NOT have extra-territorial jurisdiction. Actions taken in one country should abide by the laws of that country, not any other country - even if it affects the other country. Any country that refuses to abide by this simple rule (I'm including my own beloved United States which routinely violates this simple legal concept.), should have punitive trade restrictions placed on them.

    When I'm in New York state, I have to abide by NYS laws, not New Jerseys. Similarly, when I am in the US, I should abide by the US laws, not any other countries.

    • And separation of corporations from the state.

    • Re:Two things (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fey000 ( 1374173 ) on Thursday March 05, 2015 @10:50AM (#49188433)

      1) Going to another country simply to resign is not the sanest action.

      2) We really need a clear International consensu that governments do NOT have extra-territorial jurisdiction. Actions taken in one country should abide by the laws of that country, not any other country - even if it affects the other country. Any country that refuses to abide by this simple rule (I'm including my own beloved United States which routinely violates this simple legal concept.), should have punitive trade restrictions placed on them.

      When I'm in New York state, I have to abide by NYS laws, not New Jerseys. Similarly, when I am in the US, I should abide by the US laws, not any other countries.

      Sounds like a good idea, but how does that work when the internet is involved? Does Facebook count as everywhere? What about phone calls? Mail?

      It's a tricky system to get right.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gurps_npc ( 621217 )
        Tricky? No. Simple. Same rules apply as when using the phone.

        When I get on the phone in California and call Russia, I abide by the laws of California, not Russia. Same for mail.

        This is straightforward, simple concept.

        Facebook (and the rest of the internet) means you abide by the laws of the country you are in when you post. That part is NOT tricky.

        • When I use a Cisco voip phone from Japan through a VPN tunnel through California to phone Rusia, the ip will tell you are in California.

          Interesting....

          • Some people use a glove when firing a gun to prevent fingerprints and gunpowder residue. Then they burn the glove.

            Similarly, it is possible to switch your license plate for that of a car that has a similar color and make, then speed. When you get home, switch it back.

            The ability for a criminal to hide their crimes is not relevant to this discussion.

          • I think the point is concerns the poster's location. So if you post something in country X then you have to abide by country X's laws. It doesn't matter if you post through 20 proxies or not.

      • by N1AK ( 864906 )

        Sounds like a good idea, but how does that work when the internet is involved? Does Facebook count as everywhere? What about phone calls? Mail?

        That's already an issue, which is why clear jurisdiction is important. If I (Britain) write something in a Facebook (American) private message about liking the Dali Lama to another individual (German), but that message was forwarded to someone Chinese without me knowing and the content breached Chinese law (made up example), I then travel to HK for a holiday 5 years

      • Well, there's one simple brute-force solution: create a world government. If one government runs everything, they get automatic jurisdiction over everything, and have one universal set of laws to apply everywhere.

        Which, when you think about it, kinda makes sense. It's weird that laws change based on which arbitrary piece of dirt you happen to be standing on.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When you do something like, say, post on Facebook, when does that post stop being "active"? At what point are you no longer making the statement therein, even though it is still publicly "out there?" Remember, the written word is different than the spoken word: it exists long after the action of putting pen to paper.

      Say I am in a country that has no law against threatening to kill someone, anyone. I say aloud, "I am going to kill gurps_npc." Okay, great, that country doesn't care, no harm done.

      Now say I pos

    • 2) We really need a clear International consensu that governments do NOT have extra-territorial jurisdiction. Actions taken in one country should abide by the laws of that country, not any other country - even if it affects the other country. Any country that refuses to abide by this simple rule (I'm including my own beloved United States which routinely violates this simple legal concept.), should have punitive trade restrictions placed on them.

      You realise that that would kill basically any third party country or courts such as the International Court of Justice trying people for genocide, drug cartels etc, right?

      • You are incorrect. Mainly because you are ignorant of how international laws work. There are treaties that various countries have agreed to. Specifically, the International Court of Justice is supported by a treaty that over 120 countries have agreed to. By agreeing to that treaty, those countries have ceded legal jurisdiction.

        International Law does NOT apply to countries that have not accepted that treaty - including but not limited to China and India.

        In addition, the treaty has exceptions that let

    • by Nyder ( 754090 )

      1) Going to another country simply to resign is not the sanest action.

      2) We really need a clear International consensu that governments do NOT have extra-territorial jurisdiction. Actions taken in one country should abide by the laws of that country, not any other country - even if it affects the other country. Any country that refuses to abide by this simple rule (I'm including my own beloved United States which routinely violates this simple legal concept.), should have punitive trade restrictions placed on them.

      When I'm in New York state, I have to abide by NYS laws, not New Jerseys. Similarly, when I am in the US, I should abide by the US laws, not any other countries.

      It should work that way, but then they'd have no grounds on which to charge/bring Kim Dotcom to the USA to face charges. And the USA doesn't like to lose face, so I'm guessing that guy will spend a year in jail in the UAE.

    • by b0r0din ( 304712 )

      1) Going to another country simply to resign is not the sanest action.

      2) We really need a clear International consensu that governments do NOT have extra-territorial jurisdiction. Actions taken in one country should abide by the laws of that country, not any other country - even if it affects the other country. Any country that refuses to abide by this simple rule (I'm including my own beloved United States which routinely violates this simple legal concept.), should have punitive trade restrictions placed on them.

      When I'm in New York state, I have to abide by NYS laws, not New Jerseys. Similarly, when I am in the US, I should abide by the US laws, not any other countries.

      #2 is a really poorly thought out idea, in all manner of ways.

      When you're in NYS you have to abide by NYS AND US laws. When you're in the US there's no way to force you to abide by US AND international law, which for the most part has no teeth.

      Some eastern european country could declare cybercrime completely legal, and now those criminals are not criminals in that country. Not that we have any power to enforce it now.

      • Your objection makes little sense. First of all, International laws are not some strange set of things. Basically, anything that violates International law almost always also violates National laws. Genocide is multiple counts of murder, War Crimes are torture, rape and murder.

        International trade law has some severe penalties in taxes.

        International criminal law is focused on the severe crimes I mentioned - Genocide and War crimes. There is NO international law against cyber-crime. That does not me

        • Basically, anything that violates International law almost always also violates National laws. Genocide is multiple counts of murder, War Crimes are torture, rape and murder.

          And if the nation has no laws against those crimes? Because the people in charge of the laws are the people who committed the action? And yes, that does happen. Frequently. I'm not even going to give examples, because if you can't think of them, you really need to open a history text sometime.

          No offense, but the idea that a country can't prosecute someone for anything they did outside the country is just plain stupid.

          • No offense, but you are an incredibly ignorant of the law and history. You mention history books but have no idea what is in them. My idea is not 'my idea' - it is century old accepted legal principle that diplomats and ambassadors use to site all the time. The US can't tell Britain what side of the road to ride on, we can't arrest Putin for murdering his opponent, and we can't arrest people in Mexico for playing music so loud that people in America can hear it.

            But the internet came along, and ignoran

        • by b0r0din ( 304712 )

          Whether the law exists or doesn't at an international level doesn't matter. In your discussion of state laws applying to an international framework, you are making a false equivalence.

          In the case of war crimes and trade law, some effort is put forth by various governments and international courts. Enforcement is available. So to say suddenly that countries can or should do whatever they want within their own legal frameworks is frankly stupid. Lots of countries have much less stable governments than the US.

          • No. My equivalences are exactly the same. I am not applying state laws to an international framework, I am applying long standing international legal principles to a an international framework. when a country does something stupid, like you describe, you have two choices - International treaties and the penalties spelled out in them, or WAR.

            Perhaps you have heard of it.

            Which is exactly what is happening right now with ISIL. When countries get out of hand, we have two choices - diplomatic punishment or

      • by N1AK ( 864906 )

        Some eastern european country could declare cybercrime completely legal, and now those criminals are not criminals in that country.

        Yes; and when they do it would quickly lead to some very painful international sanctions, followed by the outlawing it again. Additionally, if your cybercrime includes doing something illegal by US law on a server based in the US you can bet the US has jurisdiction. You're inventing an unlikely scenario, and it doesn't in anyway impact on his point.

    • Actions taken in one country should abide by the laws of that country, not any other country - even if it affects the other country.

      So..... If you are in country A fire a rifle across a border and kill someone in country B then according to your approach country B should not be able to try you for murder (either by extradition or in absentia)?

      I agree that this case seems extreme - though I'm not sure of the wisdom of the person's actions - but to extrapolate from a specific case to a universal principle s

    • >

      When I'm in New York state, I have to abide by NYS laws, not New Jerseys.

      However, you are required to declare any purchases you made in New Jersey so that New York can get its tax.

  • by 50000BTU_barbecue ( 588132 ) on Thursday March 05, 2015 @10:49AM (#49188427) Journal

    Because in the last few years, we've seen what "reputation" really means. Bill Cosby, Lance Armstrong, Jian Ghomeshi, Colonel Williams, the list goes on.

    But we must protect "reputation", because that's less expensive than, you know, actually being good or worthwhile.

  • Seriously, if you post something to an internet forum, that post is no longer under your control. Don't say something online about someone if you are concerned how they might react to it. Yeah, jail time is extreme by western standards but the person who wrote it is not faultless.
  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Thursday March 05, 2015 @10:56AM (#49188501) Journal

    Nothing important should go on facebook!

  • Because this news is good for their reputation...

  • by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Thursday March 05, 2015 @11:01AM (#49188545)
    Isn't it only slander if it's not true? So if what he posted is true then it isn't slander right?
  • Everywhere (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Thursday March 05, 2015 @11:19AM (#49188723)

    I live in Luxembourg, Europe and last month we jailed a guy for 9 months for a Facebook rant.

    http://www.wort.lu/en/luxembou... [www.wort.lu]
    ---
    (CS/mth) Two Luxembourg nationals on Thursday were found guilty of sending death threats to immigrant rights activists Serge Kollwelter and Laura Zuccoli, with one of the men sentenced to nine months in prison.

    The pair were found guilty by a Luxembourg City court of publishing xenophobic comments and threats in a discussion feed on Facebook on March 31 last year.

    A 54-year-old defendant was sentenced to nine months in prison, while his 45-year-old co-defendant was served a nine-month suspended sentence, under the condition that he will not be caught for a similar offence over the next five years. ...

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      Doesn't seem like much of the same thing to me. That was an instance of someone doing something they could be jailed for where they were at the time, who happened to use Facebook to do it.

      The idea that I can be arrested for saying something that's perfectly legal where I said it by any country in the world that choses to pass a law against it is completely unworkable. Picture a dystopia where nobody ever speaks, because pretty much anything that can be said is illegal somewhere. Or even one where that does

    • Re:Everywhere (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jahta ( 1141213 ) on Thursday March 05, 2015 @12:32PM (#49189427)

      I live in Luxembourg, Europe and last month we jailed a guy for 9 months for a Facebook rant.

      http://www.wort.lu/en/luxembou... [www.wort.lu] ---

      (CS/mth) Two Luxembourg nationals on Thursday were found guilty of sending death threats to immigrant rights activists Serge Kollwelter and Laura Zuccoli, with one of the men sentenced to nine months in prison.

      Well ranting and threatening to kill somebody are two different things. The former is not normally illegal. The latter is illegal pretty much everywhere, regardless of whether you do it on the Internet or not.

  • You do not talk about Fight Club in Derkaderkastan!
  • The savagery of censorship should be expected under such tyranny. And even in the US free speech gets little respect, so the best thing to do is keep it anonymous as much as possible. The hate against freedom is strong on this planet.

  • You want "anti-trolling legislation", this is what you will get.

    The only diffrence between this and the Curt Shilling article is how some dumbfuck english major wrote them.

  • Can we organize in some way to take tourism dollars away from countries like this?
  • My company has a really successful policy to avoid these types of problems. Don't work with foreign companies. Don't sell to them. Don't talk to them. Don't visit them. Don't take visitors from foreign countries. Don't use foreign suppliers to buy anything. Don't use foreign financial companies. It cut out foreign fraud numbers down to zero, which has been a big help since back to back 3 Germans in a row tried to rip us off (and 1 Alegerian and 1 Israeli and 2 British customers).
  • The UAE law meant to protect reputation is founded on the mistaken belief that one's reputation belongs to him or her. Much like "brand image" it is the consumer, or the beholder in this case, to which the reputation belongs.

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