In October 2016, several news publications in Oman reported a new campaign about cyber blackmail. Oman’s Information Technology Authority encourages its citizens to learn more about the different types of online blackmail (i.e sextortion) and to report any such cases as they come across.

An Real Example of Cyber Blackmail in Oman

Earlier this year, a 26-year-old man revealed to the Gulf News that he was blackmailed by a friend. He shared intimate pictures taken two years ago of himself with women. “He threatened me to disseminate the photos on social media platforms following a dispute between us.”

His former friend was found guilty of posting revealing photos of his girlfriend on Instagram and was sentenced to one month in jail and fined OMR 2,000.

The Prevalence of Cyber Blackmail in Oman

Rates of online blackmail in Oman have skyrocketed over the last few years. There were a total of two blackmail reports filed in 2011 and 2012 combined, five in 2013 and 17 in 2014. In 2015, that number jumped to 84. Three-quarters into the 2016 year, 161 cyber blackmail complaints have been made.

Oman’s Telecommnications Regulatory Authority (TRA) and Information Technology Authority (ITA) officials claim the actual figures may be higher, as some might report to private firms and/or voluntary groups dedicated to helping victims of cyber blackmailing. Furthermore, they claim that many female victims might be hesitant to report cases due to fear of stigma attached to the issue. (According to statistics, 90% of all cyber blackmail crimes reported are from men; refer to the infographic below.)

Cyber Blackmail Infographic (Oman)

What Exactly Is Oman’s Cyber Blackmail’s Law?

Article 16 of Oman’s cyber law states:

The penalty with imprisonment for a period not less than one year and not exceeding three years and a fine not less than OMR one thousand and not exceeding OMR five thousands or by either penalty, shall be applied to any person who uses the informational network or the information technology facilities such as mobiles incorporated with cameras in trespassing on of families and individuals by the privity taking photographs or dissemination of their news or voice or video records even if it was true or aggressing the others with slander and defamation.

What Is Oman Doing to Reduce Cyber Blackmail in 2017?

There are several official bodies involved in creating a campaign revolved around increasing awareness about online blackmail. These entities include the Royal Oman Police (ROP) and the TRA, along with telecommunications companies Omantel and Ooredoo.

Right now, their campaign slogan urges Omani citizens to report their incidents to the authorities (particularly to the Oman National CERT at the ITA) and that government entities promise to treat all cyber blackmail incidents with high confidentiality.

Their campaign includes the hashtag “بلغ_وسرك_في_بئر,#” which translates to “Report and your secret will be kept in a well.”

Here is an example:
Report: Cyber Blackmail in Oman

To report any blackmailing cases or for any other cyber security incidents, contact the Oman CERT by calling 24166828 anytime between 7:30 AM and 2:30 PM.

You can also email ocert999@ita.gov.om, or call the Royal Oman Police (ROP) hotline: 80077444.

(Source: Times of Oman)