The enactment of privacy laws in various nations has made the topic of data protection very intricate. Although Middle Eastern countries have been slower to adapt to these changes than their European counterparts, many are now catching up with the trend.
For example, Saudi Arabia’s data localization is now governed by the Personal Data Protection Interim Regulation and Personal Data Protection Law, while UAE’s data residency requirements are regulated by UAE Data Protection Law (UDPL).
Kuwait has also taken reasonable steps to improve personal information security within the country, passing the Data Protection Privacy Regulation in 2021.
This article provides a general overview of Kuwait’s data protection laws and other important information for individuals and businesses operating in the country. Read this article if you want to learn more about Middle Eastern data residency.
Who needs to comply with personal data protection in Kuwait?
In general, data privacy laws in Kuwait apply to all individuals who handle personal information while conducting business. In this section, we will look at what information is regulated and who is affected by the laws:
What kind of information is regulated?
The Kuwait data privacy law covers any personal information that can identify a natural or legal person. These mainly refer to the person’s name, financial and health information. Geolocational data, fingerprints, other biometrics, personal tracking systems, or other information that enables physical or virtual contact with a natural or legal person also come within this category.
Who should comply?
All organizations handling data in the above-listed categories must comply with Kuwait data protection laws. The law includes all communication service providers in the public and private sectors. In the words of the DPPR, any person, natural or legal, who operates a website, application, or cloud computing service and collects, processes, or approves a third party to do so on their behalf, using information centers that are either directly or indirectly owned by them, is bound by its provisions. This definition covers a broad range of industries that are not strictly telecommunication service providers but are still involved in the communications sector.
However, the privacy laws do not apply to domestic processing by an individual. It also excludes the collection of information by state security agencies for conducting investigations, prosecuting offenders, and defending the public from safety threats.
What Kuwait data privacy laws do you need to know?
Before the DPPR, there were other laws concerning data privacy in Kuwait, such as the Kuwait Constitution and the 2014 E-Commerce Law. The latter established security guidelines for private and public information obtained and stored electronically, like names, payment card numbers, and signatures. Another law, the Cybercrime Law of 2015, was enacted against those who misuse personal and official data on the Internet. There is not much to say about these regulations because they were not very thorough and did not do much to protect personal information.
On April 1, 2021, the Data Privacy Protection Regulation went into effect. It quickly became a key piece of legislation in Kuwait’s legal system, bringing the country up to speed with other developed nations. The provisions it established, which were not previously in place, are comparable to global data management standards between service providers and their clients. For instance, it regulates the usage of cookies, contract terms, compliance guidelines, prohibitions on service providers’ promotional messages and other marketing techniques, third-party processing contracts, etcetera.
The Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) is the agency responsible for enforcing the DPPR. It subsequently published a Data Classification Policy for categorizing data based on sensitivity. This policy, the DPPR, and other related guidelines form the framework of Kuwait’s data protection regime. The E-Commerce Law and Cybercrimes Law also operate alongside the regime.
CITRA gave businesses one year from the date the DPPR went into effect to comply with its provisions. However, it did not provide any specific penalties for noncompliance. The Executive Regulations of Law No. 37 of 2014, which established the CITRA, currently administer sanctions in this regard. These penalties include prison sentences of one to five years and fines of KWD 500 ($1.627) to KWD 20,000 ($65.095). In some cases, both the sentence and the fine may apply.
Being aware of data residency requirements by country can assist businesses in achieving compliance and avoiding potential penalties for breaches.
Data residency requirements in Kuwait
Kuwait does not have any explicit data residency laws. However, financial services, health, and public sector data are tightly managed by regulators with many instances of effective data residency required for regulatory approval of a data application.
The law has far-reaching implications for Kuwait’s data residency landscape. We will discuss them below under the following headings:
In the first place, processing is not allowed unless:
- the individual has given their consent,
- the processing is required to protect the subject’s data.
- there is a legal requirement that the service provider must follow, which makes such processing necessary;
- the service provider can achieve their objectives without knowing who the subject is.
Where the above conditions have been met, providers must also:
- clearly and simply explain to the subjects for what purpose their data is being collected and processed and how the processing will be done;
- provide all relevant information and the terms of service in both English and Arabic languages;
- process information in a way that keeps it safe from unauthorized or illegal access;
- state the location and length of time that information will be stored;
- obtain further consent if the service provider intends to process the data for purposes other than those for which it was collected.
Telecommunications service providers are required to maintain transparency throughout the process, restrict the use of data to its original purpose, use first-rate tools and staff for processing, and delete personal data after the contractual period or if the user withdraws consent.
Requirement of consent
Before collecting and processing a person’s personal information, service providers are required to get that person’s consent. This consent must be given after the person has been made aware of all the requirements and obligations.
For minors, service providers must obtain the express consent of their legal guardians. They must take reasonable steps to confirm the minor’s age and have mechanisms to secure the guardian’s permission.
Data subjects have the right to withdraw their consent at any time. However, this does not affect the validity of previous processing operations. They can also ask for any previously provided personal information to be changed or deleted.
Service providers must ensure that users are aware of any third-party vendors who manage certain services. Additionally, the service provider must notify the user if data is transferred to new owners during mergers, acquisitions, liquidations, or dissolutions.
Service providers must develop compliant privacy policies and notices and provide them on their websites, forms, or at any point of contact. The policy must be written and explain how the service provider processes, uses, and stores personal information.
The privacy notice must provide the company’s name, address, and contact information. It must also state the conditions under which the service provider may divulge personal data to any third party. It should clearly show the customer’s rights to grant and revoke consent and offer users the chance to decline marketing emails, texts, or phone calls.
They have to ensure the users read and understand the notice before subscribing.
Any significant changes to the policy that occur after the customer subscribes must be communicated to the customer.
Protocol in the event of a data breach
If a breach occurs, the service provider must notify CITRA within 72 hours of becoming aware. The notification should include information on the type and scope of the breach, the owner of the affected data, and the compromised security levels. It should also include the data protection officer’s name and contact information, the potential consequences of the breach, and the risk management measures that have been implemented.
The DPPR requires service providers to notify data owners if their personal information has been compromised. This requirement, however, is unnecessary if they have already taken appropriate technical and legal action against the breach.
Kuwait data localization law requires service providers to implement and maintain up-to-date security measures to protect personal data from loss, disclosure, breach, or unauthorized access by a third party. The Data Classification Policy specifies the measures that service providers must follow based on how sensitive the information is.
Processing personnel, services, and systems must be capable of quickly restoring availability and access to personal data after a breach or illegal disclosure. Thus, they must be efficient, private, secure, and readily available. Additionally, service providers must follow any additional risk management and disaster recovery guidelines provided by the CITRA.
Requirements to keep records of the processing activity
Service providers are required to keep updated records of all processing activities. These records should be open to inspection by CITRA upon request. Records should include the service provider’s and the data protection officer’s names and contact details. If the service providers are in another country, they must provide a representative’s name and contact information. They must include information on the category, purpose, and technical and legal security measures for the processing.
Transfers across international borders must include information on the receiving nation and the technical and legal security measures in place. If a third party gains unauthorized access to the data, the service provider is required to notify CITRA within 24 hours. Furthermore, with prior notice, CITRA representatives may visit the service provider’s location to inspect the security measures and provide guidance for improvements.
How to comply with data protection laws in Kuwait — InCountry’s approach
Strong data privacy measures should be in place and strictly enforced to ensure that data is secure and handled per the regulation. However, the procedure is not simple. The numerous requirements in data protection laws are difficult to follow. But with InCountry, compliance is not only possible but also incredibly easy. InCountry removes the rigor of data residency requirements, providing instant, ready-made compliance solutions that do not disrupt your day-to-day operations.
InCountry helps international companies avoid the risks and challenges associated with cloud use. Businesses can now enter new markets without fear of violating data regulations there.
Here are some ways InCountry makes compliance simple:
- InCountry provides data residency-as-a-service globally. Your company can comply with protection laws in Kuwait and many other countries without rebuilding its entire stack each time.
- InCountry offers a certified cloud infrastructure for managing regulated data per Kuwait localization laws.
- InCountry also offers military-grade security standards to prevent breaches. We employ high-level encryption that adheres to the DPPR-specified guidelines to safeguard your information from unauthorized access.
Our leading experts are available to provide first-rate consultation services for all your questions. Schedule a demo with one of them to learn more about how our solution fits your needs.