Legal Update: Egypt passes new Personal Data Protection Law

Egypt’s Personal Data Protection Law was passed on 13 July 2020 and published on 15 July 2020. It will come into force on 14 October 2020, and the Executive Regulations are expected by 14 April 2021.

The Personal Data Protection Law introduces a variety of compliance requirements, as well as some significant criminal penalties.

The Personal Data Protection Law defines “Personal Data” as any data related to an identified natural person, or to a natural person identifiable, directly or indirectly, by reference to any other data, such as name, voice, picture, identification number, online identifier, or any data that identifies psychological, health, economic, cultural or social identity. “Sensitive Personal Data” is defined as Personal Data that discloses psychological, mental, physical or genetic health, biometric data, financial data, religious beliefs, political opinions or security situation; and Personal Data relating to children is deemed to be Sensitive Personal Data.

The Personal Data Protection Law prohibits the processing of personal data except with the consent of the data subject, or where otherwise permitted by law.

Data subjects have various rights under the Personal Data Protection Law. These include:

  • The right to know what personal data is being processed by whom, and to access the same;
  • The right to withdraw consent in respect of processing personal data;
  • The right to correct, modify, delete, add or update his or her personal data;
  • The right to limit processing of his or her personal data within a limited scope; and
  • The right to be notified of any personal data breach involving his or her personal data.

The Personal Data Protection Law requires entities processing personal data (either as Controllers or Processors) to appoint a Data Protection Officer.

Subject to certain exceptions, the Personal Data Protection Law contains a general prohibition on the transfer of personal data to recipients located outside Egypt except with the permission of the (yet to be established) Egyptian Data Protection Centre and where the level of protection provided is not less than that provided in Egypt pursuant to the Personal Data Protection Law. The Executive Regulations will specify the policies, standards, guidelines, and rules necessary for transferring personal data across borders.

The Personal Data Protection Law provides specific requirements applicable to digital marketing.

The Personal Data Protection Law provides for a variety of criminal offences, with a range of penalties - including fines and imprisonment. These include:

Collecting, processing, disclosing, providing access to, or circulating personal data, by any means, other than with the consent of the data subject, or as otherwise permitted by law;

Processing personal data other than in accordance with the personal data protection law;

Preventing a data subject from exercising rights granted pursuant to the Personal Data Protection Law;

Failure of a data controller or data processor to comply with specific obligations, and notification/reporting requirements, as specified in the Personal Data Protection Law;

Failure to appoint a Data Protection Officer, or to provide the same with essential requirements to perform duties;

Failure of a Data Protection Officer to perform duties as specified in the Personal Data Protection Law;

Transferring personal data other than in accordance with the Personal Data Protection Law; and

Failure to comply with digital marketing requirements pursuant to the Personal Data Protection Law.

Corporate clients processing personal data in Egypt, or outside Egypt in respect of individuals in Egypt, should familiarise themselves with the requirements and ensure compliance as soon as possible.

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