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Qatar set to ratify data privacy law

Businesses face QR5m fine if fail to introduce measures to protect personal data

Qatar set to ratify data privacy law
Organisations in Qatar must ensure that personal data is properly secured and managed.

Companies in Qatar face penalties of up to QR5 million ($1.47 million) if they fail to comply with new laws on data privacy that come into force next year, according to local media.

Under Qatar's new data privacy law, companies and other organisations are obliged to protect the personal information they gather from customers or face stiff penalties.

Such data includes marital status, ethnic origin, physical or mental health, religion, criminal record and information about their children.

According to a report in Doha News, the new law mainly applies to information gathered and stored online.

It does not apply to personal data processed online by individuals privately or within a family context, or to data gathered for official surveys.

Under the law, businesses have a bigger responsibility for data protection and must put in place necessary precautions, such as introducing training for data handlers and other measures to "protect personal data from loss, damage, modification, disclosure or being illegally accessed".

Businesses are banned from sending electronic direct marketing messages without first obtaining the recipient's consent, under the new law - making it harder for them to send out ‘spam' mail.

And the owner of operator of any website related to children must secure the consent of the child's parent before processing their information.

Member of the public who feel their data privacy has been compromised can lodge complaints with Qatar's Ministry of Transport and Communications, which has 60 days to take action, Doha News reported.

The data privacy law was approved by Qatar's Advisory Council and Cabinet earlier this year. It takes effect six months after publication in the official gazette, the newspaper said.

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