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Personal Data Protection Law for Businesses in Qatar

Published on 18.06.2016 by @QatarSteve

It is the core responsibility of every company to protect customers’ information along with fulfilling their service related needs. Data privacy is crucial for businesses and so is complying with the privacy laws of the land. Businesses need to protect the personal data of customers by dealing with the complex technology challenges that may come their way every now and then while sustaining the uninterrupted flow of information at all levels.

Considering the prevalence of data security threats around the globe, the security authorities in Qatar have taken a step forward by formulating a data privacy law which focuses on penalizing almost QR 5 million to businesses who fall short of ensuring strict data security. The Advisory Shura Council has approved the law draft unanimously which paved the way for its enactment.

After the approval of the draft by the cabinet in January, it was further sent to the Advisory Shura Council where the draft got approved after 6 months and was again sent to the cabinet along with new recommendations and suggestions. According to the law, using an individual’s data, in any case, without their proper consent would be considered illegal by the companies. The provisions related to preventing spontaneous spam marketing via emails and SMS are also a part of this law.

The data security law comprises of 8 chapters and 32 articles emphasizing clearly on the obligations set for companies to protect individuals’ personal information from getting hacked or leaked. In chapter two, five articles throw light upon the fact that companies are obligated to take permission from the individuals before using their personal information. There are also some clauses related to children protection against the domestic and international online exploitation. Chapter eight further stresses on the generic responsibilities of companies regarding the protection of individuals’ data.

Moreover, in order to protect personal data, trained professionals are required who could take timely precautions against data disclosure, damage, or loss. Qatar National Bank personal data leakage case is one of the alarming incidents that has shaken the authorities to the core and thus, raised many questions regarding the security measures of many companies in Qatar. For that reason, the data protection standards of current law are set by the state. At this stage, companies need to determine the importance of information classification as public or private to avert any such incident in the future.

Along with security law provisions, certain new rules were also been defined for the email and SMS marketing. The new rules ban companies from sending promotional messages to individuals without their consent as continuous complaints were launched in the past regarding the issue. On the other hand, telecommunication companies have been assisting people in blocking such unsolicited messages.

Companies are obligated to follow the defined provisions and any act against the provisions could cause them penalties of approximately QR 5 Million. The final amount will be decided by the court later on the basis of severity of breaking the law. The approval of data security law by the state for the safety of individuals’ personal information is highly commendable as it will create a new level of trust between customers and businesses and foster their relationship today and in the years to come.

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