On 3rd November 2016, Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued Law No 13 of 2016 on protecting personal data, which stipulates fines up to QR5m for violating various provisions of the law.
The Law is issued to ensure the protection of personal data, also bans sending electronic messages to individuals related to shopping, without their approval.
The law containing 32 articles applies to personal data that are processed electronically or received, collected or taken in any other form to be processed electronically or traditionally or both ways.
If the data is processed individually by the person himself or at a family level than the law does not apply Even for the official statistical requirements the law doesn’t apply.
Under the law, any individual has the right to protect the privacy of personal data and the data should not be processed unless it is in a transparent, confident and trusted manner, respecting human dignity.
Individuals or legal personalities handling data are not allowed to process personal data without approval from the person concerned or if it is not for legal purposes. Anyone violating this provision faces fines up to QR 1m.
Individual has right at any time to withdraw his previous approval for processing his personal data or to object processing the data if he felt it is not necessary, prejudiced or illegal.
He has the right for his personal data to be deleted when the purpose of its processing is met or when he feels that there is no need to continue to keep his data.
Individuals have the right to ask correction of their personal data providing the required proof. They also have the right to access personal data any time and to review it.
The person must be informed that his data has been processed and for what purpose.
He has the right to be informed about disclosure of his data and to have a copy of his personal data after paying the required fees. A ministerial decision will be issued to regulate the procedures and how the individuals could practice their rights.
Those handling or processing personal data must take all the required measures to protect it from being lost, damaged, modified or disclosed or made accessible to someone who is not supposed to access it (Article 13). Personal data of a confidential nature should not be processed without permission from the authorities concerned and only in accordance with the procedures and requirements which will be specified in the ministerial decision (Article 16).
Such data are related to race, children, health, physical or psychological situation, religious beliefs, marital relations and criminal record. The minister has the right to add more elements to this.
Any handler/ owner/ manager of electronic websites oriented for children must specify the children’s data, its usage and the policies followed. There must be clear approval from the guardian or parent for processing data related to children. (Article 17).
Violation of the above three articles (Article 13, 16, 17) are punishable with fines up to QR5m.
The law has exempted competent authorities from its provisions and allowed them to process personal data without consent, to protect national and public security as well as international relations and economic and financial interests of the state and for prevention of crimes.
The law has banned sending any electronic communication for the purpose of direct shopping to individuals without their approval. And such communication must show the identity of the sender and the purpose of shopping along with correct and clear address to stop the message if the receiver does not want it any more.
Any legal entity/personality committing an offense mentioned in the law in the name of the individual (whose personal data is processed) or for his benefit faces fine not more than QR1 m.
All the individuals and entities concerned must rectify their status in accordance with the provisions of the law within six months from the date of its enforcement.
However, the State Cabinet has the right to extend this grace period upon a recommendation by the minister.
The law is effective starting from its date of publication in the official gazette.