UAE tightens laws on political activism on Web

The United Arab Emirates is imposing sweeping new Internet regulations that include giving authorities broad leeway to crack down on Web activists who are criticising the Gulf nation's rulers or calling for demonstrations.

The measures reflect tightening cyber-controls across the Gulf region as Western-backed rulers worry about challenges inspired by the Arab Spring.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Gulf countries have faced outcry from rights groups after jailing dozens of Internet activists for posts deemed offensive to authorities or deemed to be threats to state security.

The new United Arab Emirates codes posted on Tuesday on the official news agency WAM cover various issues such as online fraud and prostitution rings. But a major segment deals with outlawing Web posts that "deride" the UAE ruling system or seek to mobilise protests.

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