Guide to Qatar’s Personal Data Privacy Protection Law (PDPPL)

In this guide:

  1. Overview of Qatar’s PDPPL
  2. Ensure business compliance
  3. How Privacy Bee helps

Overview of Qatar’s Personal Data Privacy Protection Law (PDPPL)

Implemented in 2017, the Qatari Personal Data Privacy Protection Law (PDPPL) is the country’s first comprehensive data protection law designed to allow individuals greater control over the use of their personal data. Notably, Qatar is the first Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member state to issue a data protection law of this nature. The PDPPL applies to all organizations that process personal data in Qatar, regardless of their size or location, so it’s extraterritorial scope aligns with other leading privacy legislation enacted around the world.

Qatar’s PDPPL applies to personal data that is processed electronically, collected in any way resulting in electronic processing, or is processed by any combination of electronic and traditional methods. In other words, it applies to any digital processing of personal data at any point. The law places significant emphasis on organizations’ responsibility to maintain the personal data they handle and to implement sufficient safeguards for the secure storage of such information, primarily through proactive cybersecurity efforts.

The law as a whole is based on the following core principles:

  • Transparency and fairness: Organizations must be transparent about how they collect, use, and share personal data. They must also process personal data in a fair and lawful manner.
  • Respect for human dignity: Organizations must respect the human dignity of individuals whose personal data they process. This means that they must process personal data in a way that does not harm or discriminate against individuals.
  • Purpose limitation: Organizations can only process personal data for specific, legitimate purposes. They must also collect the minimum amount of personal data necessary for those purposes.
  • Data security: Organizations must take appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, or destruction.

Each of these legal provisions is enforced by the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC). The MOTC has the power to investigate complaints about violations of the PDPPL and to impose sanctions on organizations that violate the law, which enumerates specific rights for individuals. This is a nice step in the right direction for consumers in Qatar and an example for the region, continuing the global trend of granting additional data privacy rights for individuals.

All of the following rights are granted to individuals:

  1. Right to access: Individuals have the right to access their personal data and obtain a copy of it.
  2. Right to rectification: Individuals have the right to request that their personal data be corrected if it is inaccurate or incomplete.
  3. Right to erasure: Individuals have the right to request that their personal data be erased, unless the organization has a legitimate reason to keep it.
  4. Right to restriction of processing: Individuals have the right to restrict how their personal data is processed.
  5. Right to object: Individuals have the right to object to the processing of their personal data for certain purposes.
  6. Right to data portability: Individuals have the right to receive their personal data in a portable format so that they can transfer it to another organization.

All of these rights are designed to put power back in the hands of the individual consumer. In doing so, the PDPPL imposes a number of obligations on organizations that process personal data, including obtaining consent, providing information, implementing security measures, and reporting data breaches. The PDPPL also restricts the transfer of personal data outside of Qatar.

Ensure business compliance

The impact of Qatar’s Personal Data Protection Law (PDPPL) on businesses will vary depending on the size and type of business, as well as the amount and type of personal data the business collects and processes. However, there are some general impacts that all businesses should consider.

Increased costs: Businesses need to invest in resources and expertise to comply with the PDPPL. This may include hiring data protection professionals, updating IT systems, and implementing new security measures for starters.

Operational changes: Businesses may need to make changes to their operations to comply with the PDPPL. For example, they need to obtain consent from individuals before collecting or processing their personal data in a digital format, and they may need to implement procedures to allow individuals to exercise their rights under the law.

Regulatory risk: Businesses that fail to comply with the PDPPL will face significant regulatory penalties, including fines and damage to brand reputation. Noncompliance has long term negative effects that only grow with time.

Competitive advantage: Businesses that can demonstrate compliance with the PDPPL gain a competitive advantage over their competitors. This is because consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about their privacy, and they are more likely to do business with companies that they trust to protect their personal data.

To dive a bit deeper, the PDPPL imposes a number of obligations on organizations that process personal data. Organizations should understand each of these specific obligations, which include:

  • Obtaining consent: Organizations must obtain the consent of individuals before processing their personal data, unless there is a legal exception to this requirement, and make sure consent can be revoked just as easily as it’s given.
  • Providing information: Organizations must provide every individual with information about how they will collect, use, and share their personal data in a clear, easily understood format.
  • Implementing security measures: Organizations must implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, or destruction.
  • Reporting data breaches: Organizations must report data breaches to the MOTC within 72 hours of detection.

Personal data transfers outside of Qatar are explicitly and strictly regulated. Organizations can only transfer personal data outside of Qatar if they have obtained the consent of the individual concerned or if there is a compelling legal reason for the transfer.

In addition to the key principles and obligations outlined above, the PDPPL includes provisions on a number of other topics, such as:

  1. Sensitive personal data: The PDPPL imposes additional restrictions on the processing of sensitive personal data, which is a more specific category including data on health, race, and religious beliefs.
  2. Direct marketing: The use of personal data for direct marketing purposes must be done carefully and comply with the PDPPL’s restrictions.
  3. Automated decision-making: The PDPPL grants individuals the right to object to automated decision-making that is based on their personal data and that has a legal or significant effect on them.
  4. Exemptions: The PDPPL provides a number of exemptions from its requirements, such as for the processing of personal data for national security purposes or for journalistic purposes.

Overall, the PDPPL is a complex but positive development for businesses in Qatar as well. Those organizations committed to effective data privacy practices will flourish, but this is going to require businesses to be aware of the costs and operational changes required to comply with the law. Some specific examples of how this impacts organizations across a few different industries include:

  • Financial institutions: Financial institutions must comply with the PDPPL when collecting and processing customer data, such as credit reports and account statements. They may also need to implement new procedures to allow customers to exercise their data protection rights, such as the right to access and correct their personal data.
  • Healthcare providers: Healthcare providers will need to comply with the PDPPL when collecting and processing patient data, such as medical records and billing information. They will also need to implement new security measures to protect patient data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, or destruction.
  • Retailers: Retailers will need to comply with the PDPPL when collecting and processing customer data, such as names, addresses, and purchase history. They may also need to implement new procedures to allow customers to opt out of marketing communications and to have their personal data erased, especially when transferring to third parties.
  • Technology companies: Technology companies will need to comply with the PDPPL when collecting and processing user data, such as IP addresses, browsing history, and location data. They may also need to implement new procedures to allow users to exercise their data protection rights, such as the right to be forgotten.

How Privacy Bee helps

Protecting personal data and providing details about data usage has become an imperative for businesses engaged in online service delivery. New regulations are sprouting up around the word, mandating more detailed opt-in and opt-out notifications and granting consumers more rights. Consumers in many areas have already gained the ability to scrutinize and eliminate their personal data, increasing organizational accountability and forcing businesses to create new processes to serve this requirement.

Despite the proliferation of these regulations, the responsibility falls primarily on every individual person to vigilantly oversee, assess, and request the removal of their personal data wherever it may be exposed across the vast expanse of the internet. This task becomes even bigger when applied across an entire organization, making it practically impossible for a single person or small team to manage hundreds of yearly DSAR deletion requests (per person!) without outside professional help. Nevertheless, the identification and subsequent elimination of this data plays a pivotal role in deterring cybercriminals. Doing so substantially reduces a company’s attack surface and mitigates the looming threat of a data breach by practically eliminating spear phishing and social engineering attacks. This is where Privacy Bee emerges as the optimal solution, simplifying the time-consuming process of monitoring and eradicating employee personal data for business leaders. It’s especially effective for executives who are highly visible to the general public.

Privacy Bee not only minimizes the proliferation of your organization’s personal data across the vast digital landscape but also extends its protective umbrella to vendors. If you are already conducting risk assessments and vendor surveys, kudos to you! However, it is essential to recognize vendors are most susceptible to a breach via subpar data privacy management, which you wouldn’t want to seep into your organization.

In the billion-dollar surveillance industry, Data Brokers and People Search Sites have assumed pivotal roles, reaping profits by trading your organization’s information with obscure and uncontrollable entities. The consequences of private data exposure on the internet are far-reaching and pose significant threats when obtained by malicious hackers. A solitary data breach can lead to a loss in productivity, expensive remediation efforts, and recurring breach incidents—a predicament that plagues just about every business following an initial breach. The first event sets off a chain reaction that not only inflicts short-term damage on your bottom line but also erodes brand value and customer trust over time. Furthermore, there are ripple effects to consider, such as heightened employee turnover and a substantial decline in productivity due to more sophisticated spam and poaching outreach.

By combatting threat actors lurking beyond your organization’s perimeters and meticulously pinpointing every location across the internet where your data needs to be purged, Privacy Bee closes the data security gap. The service even encompasses dark web monitoring and provides timely data breach notifications if another company falls victim to an exploitation incident and potentially exposes your information in the process.

Our commitment is rooted in the belief that privacy is an inalienable human right that transcends political discourse and negotiations. This is why Privacy Bee vigilantly monitors user data for security vulnerabilities at no cost while holding the surveillance industry accountable. We compel Data Brokers, People Search Sites, and more than 150,000 additional websites to expunge your stored data and opt you out of further data collection.

Privacy Bee protection covers a wide range of potential threats, including:

  • Data breaches
  • Social engineering attacks
  • Spear phishing
  • Doxxing
  • Identity theft
  • Spam emails
  • Telemarketing calls
  • Cyberstalking
  • Swatting
  • Blackmail

Our service is a powerful tool for business leaders who want to protect their employees’ and customers’ data. In today’s world, where privacy is more important than ever, Privacy Bee is your trusted partner in the fight to preserve personal and organizational integrity.

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