Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Microsoft's Head of Anti Piracy/License Compliance Lead, Mr. Savas Yucedag on combating software piracy in the MENA region. Photo Credit: Vikyath Poojary 

Every year, millions of people become victims of internet fraud and the problem is rapidly escalating. To overcome this issue the Dubai Police collaborated with Microsoft, a member of ‘Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy’ (BASCAP) group to discuss the growing concerns and ways to combat software piracy in the Gulf region on Wednesday, 12th December 2012.

It was pointed out most people may intentionally or unintentionally commit the most common acts of piracy through unauthorized copying, reproduction, transfer, and usage of copyrighted software.

Major Rashed Mohammad Saleh, the Deputy Director of the Anti-Economic Crimes Department for the Dubai Police stressed on the importance of being aware of pirated products and pirates in the United Arab Emirates.

“It is vital for consumers in the UAE to know what to look out for when it comes to pirated or counterfeit products. Not only are these products of a lower level of quality, but it is also illegal to knowingly partake in piracy and counterfeiting of any kind.” said Major Rashed Mohammad Saleh.

The Head of Anti-Commercial Deception & Piracy Department at Dubai Police First Lieutenant Khalid Khalfan Abdulla Al Muhairi sought for more anti-piracy initiatives besides just spreading awareness. 

“The arrests and seizures, press conferences, security education lessons in schools, meetings with concerned parties among other measures are part and parcel of our long time commitment to fight against piracy,” he said.

Dubai Police have built a strong relationship with Microsoft to protect UAE customers from the growing threat of pirated products and ensure that customers receive genuine products.

Microsoft's Head of Anti Piracy and License Compliance Lead, Mr Savas Yucedag, outlined key ways in which the organization fights piracy, the steps are distinguished as the three E's: enforce, educate, engineer. 

In order to ensure quality, functionality and compatibility of products in the market, Microsoft works closely with government bodies as well as the Dubai Police to enforce laws against pirated products.

The education aspect involves informing the public about the risks of using pirated products and also the advantages of buying genuine software. The people can also take part in enforcing the piracy laws through use of a website that enables users to inform the authorities about suspected non-genuine Microsoft products.

The engineering part of it is the initiative by Microsoft to come up with ways to prevent the software from being pirated at all. There were several risks outlined by the speakers such as  inclusion of viruses, spyware, malware and adware. 

The Harrison Group Study revealed that 24 per cent of the pirated operating systems became infected at installation or independently downloaded and installed malicious software upon connection to the internet. In essence, computers using counterfeit software consist of programs that slow down one's computer and also potentially allow the creator of the software to view online histories, passwords and access bank accounts.

When asked why one should purchase a genuine product when a version of the same is available for a cheaper price or even free, Mr Yucedag stated, “We cannot offer a lower price than free”. He also added that the purchase of genuine products comes with the assurance that nothing malicious will lodge itself in your computer.

Yucedag said that he was optimistic about the end of piracy and working with law enforcement agencies has contributed greatly towards that end.

By Tarish Tolani

The writer is a first year undergraduate student pursuing Media and Communications.