October 11, 2018

Egypt approves new data protection law

It has been reported that Egypt has become the latest jurisdiction in the Middle East to approve a data protection law. Here is what you should know about the proposed law and what this will mean for businesses in Egypt.

News outlets reported that the Egyptian Cabinet approved a law in August 2018 to protect personal data following an announcement by the Minister of Communication and Information Technology. This would represent the latest development in data protection legislation in the Middle East following national laws issued in Qatar (2016) and Bahrain (2018).

About the proposed law

The proposed law would protect personal data collected, processed or disclosure by any means. The reports suggest that a central authority will be established and empowered to impose sanctions of imprisonment and fines of not less than EGP 100,000 (USD 5,600).

The draft law is stated to contain provisions relating to data security, cross-border data transfers and electronic marketing in the draft law.

The bill will be submitted to the Egyptian Parliament for discussion and to the State Council for legal review prior to issue.

What it means for business in Egypt

This development could have a substantial impact on organisations doing business in Egypt, particularly companies in the retail, banking and education sectors and other areas that process substantial amounts of personal information.

Historically, there have been no formal data protection laws in Egypt. Organisations have been required to comply with a patchwork of data-related provisions in the Penal Code, Labour Law, Banking Law and other legislation.

The introduction of specific legislation on data protection should provide greater certainty in relation to data processing. However, it will also increase the rights available to citizens in respect of their personal data and may require organisations to adopt new policies and processes to ensure compliance.