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Oman recently passed the Royal Decree 6/2022 promulgating the Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL) on 9 February 2022. The PDPL will repeal and replace Chapter Seven of the Electronic Transactions Law, when it comes into effect a year later on 9 February, 2023.
While Oman's PDPL contains statutes that can be found in most other data protection laws globally, it does proffer an interesting take on data privacy rights for its residents. The first thing anyone will notice about this new law is how broad it appears in some cases. This is primarily because further executive regulations that will supplement this law are expected to be published before it will be effective. Moreover, Article 7 of the new law has appointed the Ministry of Transport, Communication and Information Technology (MTCIT) as the regulatory body to help enforce the provisions of this law.
However, for now, it is important to understand the critical bits of the new law and how it will affect organizations operating from Oman or catering to Omani users.
It is essential to understand what type of personal or sensitive data is covered under the provisions of this law as well as where does the new law's jurisdiction extend to:
As per the law's interpretation, it applies to any data that makes a natural person directly or indirectly identifiable, by reference to one or more identifiers, such as name, civil number, electronic identifiers, or by reference to one or more factors related to genetic, physical, mental, psychological, social, cultural, or economic identity.
Additionally, it applies to any health and biometric data that an organization may have collected.
However, the provisions of the law will not apply in the following cases:
Since there's no explicit mention of the territorial scope of this law, it is reasonable to assume that it will apply to any organizations operating in Oman and any organizations not based in Oman but processing and collecting data on Omani residents following a similar pattern as that of other major data protection laws globally.
Like other data protection laws across the globe, Oman's PDPL places several obligations on organizations processing and collecting data on data owners.
As per Article 10, all personal data should only be processed through transparency, honesty and via express written consent from the data owner. Secondly, in the case of processing data related to minors, it is prohibited to process a child's personal data except with their guardian's consent unless such treatment is essential in the child's best interest.
Under Article 21, a data controller must secure a data owner's consent before publishing their data in any way whatsoever. Moreover, the data controller is obligated to obtain the written consent of the owner of personal data before sending them any advertising or marketing material for commercial purposes as per Article 22.
As per Article 14 of the new law, the data controller must notify the owner of the personal data in writing before beginning the processing of any personal data. The data owner must be informed about the contact details of the controller and processor, the purpose and description of the data processing procedure, and the rights available to the data subject.
As per Article 16 of this new law, all organizations collecting data on Omani residents are required to hire an external auditor, approved by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MTCIT), to evaluate their data protection mechanisms in place.
Per Article 19, the data controller is obligated, in the event of a breach of personal data, which leads to its destruction, alteration, disclosure, access, or unlawful processing, to inform the Ministry and the owner of personal data about the breach.
As there is no dedicated regulatory body dealing with data protection measures within the country, the Ministry will likely set up a dedicated communication channel to make this easier for organizations in addition to preparing and approving controls and procedures for data protection per Article 15.
Controllers are required to hire a data protection officer (DPO) in line with the requirements laid down by Article 19 of this law. . Additional information, as well as clarity on the criteria for this official and their extended responsibilities within the organization, will be made in the future.
Under Article 23, any organization can transfer data collected within Oman outside the country if it follows the directives issued by the Ministry of Communications. However, such transfers are prohibited if there is a chance that the transfer of such data may cause harm to a data subject under this law.
Oman's PDPL affords personal data owners within the country with several data subject rights similar to other data protection laws globally. Data subjects, referred to as “owner of personal data” have the following rights per the PDPL:
The new law does not establish a new regulatory body dealing with data protection. However, as mentioned earlier, the MTCIT has been tasked to take this responsibility from the Electronic Defense Center which was the primary body responsible for handling issues related to data protection in the country.
It will be responsible for preparing and approving the controls and procedures related to personal data protection, including determining the necessary safeguards, measures, and rules of conduct related to the protection of personal data.
Moreover, data subject will be able to contact the Ministry directly related to any data privacy issues.
There will be dedicated officers within the Ministry whose responsibilities will include enforcing this law. They will be appointed after confirmation from the Minister of Communications and hold the same authority as that of the judicial police.
Article 25 till Article 30 state the following penalties in case of specific violations:
Complying with various data protection laws can often be a hassle. However, a sound starting foundation proves incredibly helpful. Here are some steps related to how organizations can comply with Oman's PDPL:
With most countries already having drafted their data protection laws or in the process of doing so, it has become more important than ever for organizations to make data compliance a strategic goal. Not only is there now legal pressure to do so, but the users themselves have become educated and informed about their rights to privacy.
Compliance with different data protection laws worldwide is easier said than done since each law has its provisions and would require businesses to tweak their data collection practices radically in cases. In such circumstances, AI-driven solutions are the best way forward as they allow the business to merge effectiveness with efficiency.
Securiti is a global leader in data compliance and governance solutions thanks to its PrivacyOps framework that can help any business achieve compliance at the click of a single button. Request a demo today and see how Securiti's tools can help you.