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Dubai mulls harsher penalties for illegal online trade

Dubai Municipality plans to impose tougher controls on people conducting illegal trade through social media channels.

The controls include stiff fines and blocking of ‘business’ websites, it said on Monday.

Redha Hassan Salman, director of the health and safety department at Dubai Municipality, said in a statement to media: “We are looking for different means to implement penalties on those people who practice illegal online trade.

“We will seek the help of different relevant local and federal authorities to stop this illegal activity, including banning the websites.”

It comes after Dubai authorities claimed to have identified individuals using Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media channels to run unlicensed businesses.

Salman said such individuals would require valid permits to conduct any trading activity in the country. “It is a criminal activity [not to] as the products sold online are going to a wider spectrum of people,” he said, citing products that have not been approved for import by the national authorities and which could be harmful for public consumption.

He added: “Anybody who wants to do business here must abide by the established rules and regulations. They should register their products before bringing it to our markets and the products should be sold through proper outlets.”

Dubai Municipality said, in general, compliance with trading laws is high in the emirate. It said 89 percent of operating businesses comply with all trading rules and regulations. Of 13,978 shipments checked by the authorities in 2016, 733 were rejected, it said.

However, it warned residents to be vigilant and notify the authorities if they spot any fraudulent business activity.

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