November 28, 2022

Privacy and Data Protection for Tech Companies in Saudi Arabia

Privacy and Data Protection for Tech Companies in Saudi Arabia :

Technology has opened us to so many possibilities and numerous opportunities. Fifty years ago, our access and connectedness were literally non-existent. Thanks to technology, the world is becoming a global village, and tech companies are at the forefront of driving this revolution. The connectedness we have, however, comes at a loss. Privacy and personal data are now open more than ever. With the click of a finger, an individual’s preferences and history are accessible. Unfortunately, more often than not, they fall into the wrong hands, thereby causing a breach of the fundamental right to privacy. In addition, data breaches affect the financial aspect of an economy. For example, between 2021 and 2022, the cost of data breaches in the Middle East went up by 7.6%. This resulted in a loss of about $7.45 million.

Why Tech Companies need to prioritize privacy and data protection

With the Vision 2030 vision of the Kingdom, its tech ecosystem has grown to one of the world’s largest. Saudi Arabia’s technology market is estimated to be the largest in the region, with a volume of $40 billion. However, with the growth of its technology sector, there has also been a surge in data breaches. According to IBM, 44% of all data breaches are linked to the theft of personal information. It is also the costliest for the region, accounting for a 10% increase in financial expenses in 2021. The potential breaches of privacy and the financial costs breach of privacy leads to are the significant reasons why tech companies need to prioritize data protection. Without the regulation and full implementation of privacy and data protection, tech companies might keep taking the hit. This will result in reduced consumer trust and increased exposure to financial risks.

How can Tech Companies ensure privacy and data protection?

The Personal Data Protection Law 2021 (PDPL) was enacted by the Saudi Arabian government and took full effect in 2022. The law protects personal data, and its scope extends to any processing by business and public entities within Saudi Arabia. PDPL aims to be consistent with principles in international data protection laws. Its main features include Data Subject rights, Controller registration and obligations, Consent, Privacy policy, Purpose limitation, and Data minimization. The law is the first enactment that tackles the privacy and data protection issue. Therefore, it sets the pace for tech companies to know their data protection principles. Thus, by implementing this law in a tech company’s governance structure, there should be minimal data breaches in consumer privacy. In addition, Saudi Arabia, alongside other MENA countries, has signed a statement that urges big tech companies to ensure that data is not misused. This coalition with tech companies to provide data protection will enable tech companies to prioritize privacy.

Bottom line

For the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to truly enjoy the yields from its technological investments, there is a need for personal information to be protected. Without this, the potential for digital technologies and the internet to improve people’s lives within the region will scarcely be realized.

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