Expert Insight

Electronic Blackmail Crime between Kuwaiti and Lebanese Law international legal advisor . lawyer Sarah matter


Our world is witnessing a revolution in the field of technology, especially with the emergence of the Internet and social networking sites, to become a part of our daily lives with the profound consequences it has on our societies. Some of them have contributed positively to the development of human life, and the others have a negative aspect represented in the emergence of new types of infringements on the rights of others and society, which is known as cybercrime, of which electronic blackmail is a part. This prompted countries to issue new laws that are commensurate with the nature of these infringements.


Starting with the definition of cybercrime, which is the commission of an illegal act using an electronic means with the intention of obtaining a material or moral gain. Among the cybercrimes, the danger of which has recently aggravated, is the crime of electronic blackmail, which is based on threatening or blackmailing a person by publishing information or pictures of them through one of the Internet channels, compelling them to do or refrain from doing an act or pay an amount of money. There are many examples in this regard, where the blackmailer exploits the victim to obtain information, pictures or videos of the victim to threaten and blackmail him/her later by requesting a sum of money or performing illegal or immoral acts. In most cases, the victims are women, which is unfortunately because of the nature of our Arab societies and the fear of defamation in front of their families and in society. Blackmail, especially for fragile people, contributes to spreading mental illness, fear and turmoil. It also leads to the destruction of the victim's family life and future, and may sometimes lead to suicide. We recall several cases of minors who were victims of blackmail and threats to publish pictures of them that they had sent to blackmailers, who they fell into their web, leading them to commit suicide, instead of resorting to the competent authorities. Likewise, blackmail may be committed by the closest people to the victim. In some cases, the blackmailer was the victim’s fiancé and even her husband. Therefore, one must always be careful and not trust anyone, even if he is the closest of relatives. The victim must always not yield to the blackmailer and resort to the relevant authorities to stop him.


In this context, and in order to protect the victim, Kuwaiti law criminalized electronic blackmail, according to Law No. 63 of 2015 on Combating Information Technology Crimes, which stipulates in Article 3 (Paragraph 4):


“Imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years and/or a fine of not less than three thousand dinars and not more than ten thousand dinars, shall be applied on any one who:

..... 4- Uses the information network or an information technology means to threaten or blackmail a natural or legal person to force them to do or refrain from doing an act.

If the threat is to commit a felony or what is considered an insult to the dignity, honor, esteem or reputation of persons, the penalty shall be imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years and/or a fine of not less than five thousand dinars and not more than twenty thousand dinars….”


As for the Lebanese legislator, he did not follow the example of his Kuwaiti counterpart when he issued Law No. 81 of 2018 on Electronic Transactions and Personal Data, as he did not insert a special text criminalizing electronic blackmail under this law. Thus the judiciary played the main role, as it adapted Article 650 of the Penal Code issued in 1943 with the development of information technology, in pursuit of justice and so that blackmailers would not be with impunity. The interpretation adopted the application of Article 650 of the Penal Code, which punishes anyone who threatens a person to expose, disclose or divulge a matter, and who would harm the dignity or honor of this person in order to force them to bring an unlawful benefit to the blackmailer or to others in the event of using information that could be obtained through information systems, because the text does not indicate the source of information used in threats or blackmail.


Countries have paid great attention to combating cybercrime. Kuwait and Lebanon have established a department to combat cybercrime, and have created phone numbers to report such crimes, including electronic blackmail. In addition to consolidating confidentiality and preserving personal life, the importance of this element in encouraging blackmail reporting should be noted, as the girl is usually afraid of scandal. This is what the blackmailer relies on to reach his desired goal, as the victim responds to him to prevent the publication of her photos or confidential information. Therefore, the essence of confidentiality was to give the victim additional protection and encourage her to report to punish the criminal as soon as possible.


The role played by the Cyber Crime Combating Department was very effective, as the victim is treated with respect and the confidentiality of private information is preserve, until the criminal is tracked down and referred to the Public Prosecution to pursue him. However, the only obstacle is the technical knowledge of the workforce in this department, which requires practical and technical training on many modern technologies that are in line with these crimes.


In conclusion, electronic blackmail crimes have become a phenomenon that penetrates the body of society and makes it fragile and disturbed. Women usually fall victim to this type of crimes, so awareness must be raised not to send any information or personal photos to others, even if they are the closest relatives of the victim. In the event of falling into the blackmailer’s web, the victim must trust the Cyber Crime Combating Department and inform them immediately, instead of yielding to the blackmailer’s demands, as the latter will constantly threaten and blackmail the victim and will not be satisfied with one time.

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