Spying on your spouse’s phone in Saudi Arabia now carries a $133,000 (N48 million) fine and up to a year in prison, under a new law that aims to “protect morals of individuals and society and protect privacy’’.
The punishment would apply to both men and women in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, according to a statement on Tuesday by the ministry of culture.
It could tend to protect husbands from their wives.
As in many other parts of the Muslim world, Saudi laws on divorce, inspired by scripture, often required wives seeking alimony to provide evidence of abuse or sexual promiscuity.
A husband’s phone could be a rich source of such evidence.
The Anti-Cybercrime Law, says “spying on, interception or reception of data transmitted through an information network or a computer without legitimate authorisation” is a crime.
It imposes a penalty up to $133,000, prison or both.
“Social media has resulted in a steady increase in cybercrimes such as blackmail, embezzlement and defamation, not to mention hacking of accounts,” the ministry said.
A similar law on the books in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates also bars the practice, carrying a minimum three-month prison term and $817 fine.
The oil-rich and tech-obsessed countries are among the most avid social media users in the world, but traditional values remained ascendant, even in courts.