Saudi Arabia outlaws ‘spying’ on spouse’s phone

RIYADH — Spying on spouse’s phone is now a crime in Saudi Arabia that could land the offender in jail or with a fine of up to USD133,000, according to a government release Monday.

The new “Anti-Cybercrime Law” criminalizes activities, such as spying on data transmitted through a computer without authorization, or access to computers with the intention to threaten or blackmail any person.

“The growth of social media has resulted in a steady increase in cybercrimes, such as blackmail, embezzlement, and defamation, not to mention hacking of accounts,” said the release.

The government said the law aimed to “protect morals of individuals and society and protect privacy”, and would apply to both men and women.

Yet some argue that it may ultimately be more protective of men, as the law will make it more difficult for women to prove allegations of abuse or promiscuity against their husbands.

Social media technology is increasingly popular in the Arab state. As of the third quarter in 2017, 75 percent of the country’s total population is active social media users.

The most popular social network in the country is mobile messenger WhatsApp with a penetration rate of 71 percent.