3 July 2019
EGYPT: First Personal Data Protection Law Passed
Egypt has passed a new law protecting personal data privacy, the country’s first such legislation. The Personal Data Protection Act is aimed at protecting data and privacy for all Egyptian citizens, as well as European Union citizens in Egypt. According to Ahmed Badawi, Chairman of Egypt’s Communications Committee of the House of Representatives, the new law will apply to all Egyptians and to foreigners.
The regulation was first proposed by legislators in October 2017, and a draft subsequently approved in August 2018. The law is intended to prevent the collection or disclosure of personal data by any means without the consent of those involved. The law defines personal data as any information that can identify an individual directly or indirectly, the use of names or pictures, or any other data identifying the individual's economic, cultural, and social conditions.
The new law also requires a centre for personal data protection to be established by the Information Technology Industry Development Agency that will be responsible for making and formulating various policies, regulations, and plans for protecting data and Egyptians’ privacy.
A key provision of the new law prohibits the collection, transfer, storage, preservation, or processing of sensitive personal data, or making it available without a licence from the centre, and with the obligation to obtain written consent from the concerned person. Importantly, the sharing of personal data with a foreign country is also prohibited, except under a licence issued by the centre. Broadcasting of electronic advertisements is not allowed unless these have prior permission from the receiver.
Penalties for those who do not comply with the law include possible imprisonment for a period of not less than three months and fines of between EGP100,000 (US$6,000) and EGP1 million. In the case of individuals transferring data to a foreign country, fines are stiffer – between EGP300,000 (US$18,000) and EGP3 million.
The need to have a data protection law is in part driven by Egypt’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology’s efforts to develop its data centre industry, a sector which is enjoying steady growth of about 12% per annum. Speaking at the Data Centers Future Conference held on 16 June, Amr Talaat, Egypt’s Minister for Communication and Information Technology, said: “These efforts are being accompanied by legislative and structural reform, such as the issuance of the Personal Data Protection Act, which is a basic building block in the data centre industry.”