Person typing on a computer keyboard – Flickr/Wellness Corporate Solutions
CAIRO – 7 August 2018: Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat announced the Cabinet’s approval of a draft law aiming to protect personal data, following the weekly ministers’ meeting on Tuesday.
The draft law will be referred to the State Council then the Parliament for approval. Talaat said that the law’s executive regulations will be issued soon.
According to official reports, the law protects citizens’ “fully or partially electronically treated personal data.”
In a press statement following the meeting, Talaat said that the law prohibits gathering or processing individuals’ personal data or spreading them by any means without the permission of the concerned individuals, except in cases authorized legally.
Talaat affirmed the country’s keenness to attract international and regional investments in the field of database centers and to establish legally protected data centers.
The Cabinet announced that the law will be imposed on Egyptians inside the country and expatriates alike. It will be also enforced on non-Egyptians inside and outside Egypt as long as the data in question belong to Egyptian citizens or foreigners staying inside Egypt.
Violators of the law will be punished by a minimum of one year imprisonment and a fine of not more than LE 1 million ($55,988) and not less than LE 100,000 ($5,598), according to a statement released by the Cabinet.
The draft law has been issued upon the president's directives, according to Talaat. It aims to raise the level of data security inside the country and to organize electronic marketing activities and data transfer, according to the statement.
A center for protecting personal data will be established at the Information Technology Industry Development Authority, according to the statement.
Workers at the center will be empowered by law to arrest violators in their field of work. The workers will be appointed by the minister of justice.
Legal steps for draft laws
According to Egyptian legislations, ministers have to send their draft laws to the council of ministers before the council sends it to the Parliament. However, Parliament members can directly propose draft laws to the Parliament for approval.
Following the approval of the council of ministers on a draft law introduced by a ministry, this ministry should then coordinate with other ministries and related parties to prepare the draft law in its last form before it is submitted again to the council.
The Cabinet has to send the draft law to the State Council in order for the latter to send notes about it. The Cabinet usually sends the State Council’s notes to the Justice Ministry to know their legal opinion about these notes. However, the Cabinet is not constitutionally obliged to commit to the State Council’s opinion and notes about the draft law.
According to the constitution, the State Council is an independent judicial authority specialized in settling various types of disputes, including administrative ones, in addition to reviewing and phrasing draft laws and legislative decisions.
The council of ministers then has to send the draft law to the Parliament with all researches, attachments, copy of the experts’ opinions and an explanatory memorandum attached to the draft law.
The Parliament has the right to approve or reject the draft law introduced by the Cabinet. The Parliament then refers the draft law to the Proposals and Complaints Committee to prepare a report on it and submit it to the Parliament again.
Securing privacy rights
Egyptian law criminalizes activities, including violations of an individual’s private life without their permission, and sentences the violator to prison in case he is proven guilty.
Taking photos of a person in a private place, transmitting a conversation in a private place or overhearing a telephone conversation without permission may lead to a prison sentence of up to a year, according to Egypt’s penal code (309 bis, 309 bis A).
Moreover, an individual convicted of blackmailing someone by threatening to release their private conversation may face a prison sentence of up to five years.
The law also criminalizes the use of modern technology to commit such violations against an individual’s will, and orders the confiscation of the equipment used, and the subsequent deletion or destruction of recordings.