Why Dubai closed 9,000 social network accounts
* 8,894 social networking shut for pushing counterfeit goods
* Instagram accounts topped among closed, 94.5 million followers together
* Unauthorised sellers to be fined AED25,000
* DED confiscated 67.7 million pieces of counterfeit goods in 2016
Dubai’s economy watchdog has closed down 8,894 social networking accounts last year as they were found to be used to peddle counterfeit goods.
The Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection (CCCP) section in the Department of Economic Development (DED) said the crackdown was part of protecting trademarks and eliminating practices that are harmful to e-commerce and the sustainability of businesses in the emirate.
The electronic compliance section in CCCP tracked the fraud and closed down the accounts in collaboration with owners and representatives of the brands that were subject to the infringement, the regulator said.
Together the accounts were found to have more than 94.5 million followers and 80 per cent were Instagram accounts although other platforms including Facebook and Twitter were also used by the violators.
“Social networking accounts have come in handy for many who trade in counterfeit goods nowadays but the Electronic Compliance section maintain tight vigil to prevent such misuse of modern technology and protect the reputation of Dubai as a competitive business hub,” said Ibrahim Behzad, Director of Intellectual Property Rights Protection Management at CCCP.
Behzad said the number of social networking accounts closed down in 2016 was 200 per cent higher compared to 2015 as more violators resorted to social media thinking such sites were safe.
“However, the Department of Economic Development promptly maintained round-the-clock vigil and acted on complaints from trademark owners. A variety of counterfeit goods including bags, perfumes, watches, cosmetics, phones and accessories were being displayed on the social networking sites,” he added.
In January last year, Arabic language daily Al Bayan quoted Mohammed Lootah, Deputy Executive Director for Consumer Protection and Trade Control at the DED, as saying that those who sell products on social networks face a fine of AED25,000.
Crackdown on counterfeits
Officials from DED also raided a number of villas, warehouses and apartments that were used to stock counterfeits.
Behzad urged consumers, women in particular, not to fall prey to social networking accounts promoting counterfeit products.
DED confiscated 67.7 million pieces of counterfeit goods worth nearly AED1.16 billion in 2016. The number of items confiscated was seven per cent higher than the 63.3 million pieces unearthed in 2015 and the corresponding increase in estimated value of the goods was 15 per cent (AED1.01bn).
“A large majority of the counterfeit products are aimed to lure women. Counterfeiting compromises the health and safety of consumers. We call on the public to contact us on the Ahlan Dubai number 600 54 5555 to share with us any information they may have related to counterfeiting. We can be contacted on the twitter account @Dubai_Consumers too,” Behzad said.
CCCP received 27,027 consumer complaints in 2016, an increase of 23 per cent compared to the 21,896 complaints received during the previous year with Ahlan Dubai call centre receiving 2,252 complaints monthly on an average.