Spying on spouse’s phone now punishable by law in Saudi Arabia

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Saudi law will punish spouses in the case of illegally spying on each other’s phone and will add it to crimes related to information technology.

The punishment ranges from imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, and a fine of not more than 500,000 riyals ($133,000), or either one of these penalties in case the husband or wife are spying on the other's phone, in order to catch a wrongful act.

According to legal sources, the penalty is imposed on the husband or wife in the case of illegally accessing the other’s smartphone, and it would be enough as proof that the phone is protected by a password that was deciphered to invade privacy.

If the husband and wife gave out or sent the information obtained through electronic means of communication, the penalty then is one year in prison and a fine of 500, 000 riyals ($133,000).

However, If the phone is accessed without using or sharing the information, the crime in this case will result in a penalty with a warning from the judge according to the circumstances of the case, and the damage caused to the person whose cell phone was accessed.

Legal Advisor Abdul Aziz bin Batel said that crimes related to information technology involve any devices such as computers, mobile phones and cameras, and is punishable according to the law.

Al-Batel said to Al Arabiya that the amount of the fine goes to the treasury of the state, not as a compensation for the other party, stressing that the system does not apply to the control of parents over devices belonging to their children in order to protect them or for guidance and care.

But with the spouses, taking pictures and saving them in another mobile is a case of defamation, and the crimes in that case are meant to access and seize data in order to save it and publish it later.

The article specifies that the punishments target those who commit information crimes, namely tapping, intercepting or sharing through the internet, without a justification or for threatening or extortion.

The crimes also involve illegal access into a website to alter the design of the site, damage it, modify it, occupy its address, invade privacy and infringe on private life by misusing mobile phones equipped with cameras and similar acts.

The Saudi Royal Decree approving a system to combat cybercrime is intended to help achieving information security, preserving the rights when using the internet, in addition to protecting public interest and morals.

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