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The UAE’s telecom regulator, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has responded to false claims on social media that police were issuing AED 5000 fines to people for using a virtual private network (VPN).

The TRA issued a statement on Twitter informing the public that an SMS asking people to attend Bur Dubai police station for using a VPN was fake. The hoax went viral on social media, with many people posting screenshots of the message they received online, and expressing their disbelief.

"TRA would like to draw your attention that the circulated message about using a VPN, paying AED5000 fine, and requesting attendance to the nearest police station, is fabricated," the TRA said. "We ask the public not to circulate such messages." Telecom operator Etisalat also responded to the hoax.

A virtual private network extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Thus, VPNs can be used to access restricted websites or as an added layer of security when doing sensitive transactions online.

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