Ministry of Economy warns of impact of new European data law
Ministry raising awareness in private sector of upcoming General Data Protection Regulation
The UAE Ministry of Economy is raising awareness among private sector companies of the need to be ready for new European data protection rules, which comes into force one year from now.
The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to become law by May 2018. The new rules govern all companies in Europe, as well as all companies trading with European companies and individuals. The law includes strong penalties for misuse of data or failure to protect personal data of customers, with fines of up to 4% of annual turnover, or 20m euros ($22m).
HE Juma Mohammed Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for Foreign Trade at the Ministry of Economy, noted that the regulation issued by the EU aims to protect the data of every individual in the EU. This not only impacts companies operating in European countries, but includes all institutions and companies that conduct business, trade and investment activities within EU countries, including the UAE business sector linked with European trade relations.
Due to this, the Ministry is working on deepening its knowledge about the new legislation, its provisions and requirements, and aims to reconcile its operational procedures with European authorities, in adherence with the framework of the GDPR, before May 2018.
Al Kait emphasized the EU is one of the UAE's most important trade partners. Trade between the two sides generated $65.8 billion in 2016 alone. The UAE has become one of the top 10 destinations for EU exports, and is home to over 41,000 European companies, in addition to over 121,000 EU citizens.
The legislation outlines a non-compliance penalty of up to 4% of a company's annual turnover, and €20 million as the maximum fine for more serious offenses, including failure to attain client consent when processing data, or the violation of privacy. Penalties are also applied to information controllers and processors, including cloud software companies. The new legislation also outlines terms of approval for the use of data, to prevent companies from using legally illegitimate terms, and gives both parties the ability to easily withdraw if desired.