Bahrain drafts new data law to boost tech sector

Island kingdom plans to publish draft legislation 'before end of the year'
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By Sarah Townsend
Wed 27 Sep 2017 10:38 AM

Bahrain is drawing up a law on data privacy and protection, in an attempt to better regulate its burgeoning technology sector, it has emerged.

Khalid Al Rumaihi, the CEO of Bahrain’s inward investment agency Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), told journalists in Manama this week that it would be the first time a dedicated digital data law had been introduced in the region.

The legislation is intended to give greater certainty to companies and individuals on digital publishing and data protection issues.

A draft is being finalised for publication in the next two months, the CEO said, with a view to presenting to parliament soon afterwards.

Al Rumaihi said: “This [a regulatory framework for the digital and technology industry] is a key part of our strategy for attracting technology companies and customers to Bahrain.

“So, we, together with the government, are working on increasing the legislation around data privacy and data sovereignty.

“There are examples of where this regulation has been introduced in other parts of the world, but we think this will be the first in the region. We plan to do that in the next couple of months.

“Of course we want to work with other bodies – Ministry of Justice and other government departments – and we also want to consult with the private sector.

“We have already got a draft piece of this legislation and it is a matter of months before the government can present it to parliament and discuss it shortly.”

He added: “For us, this is all part of our commitment to the [technology] industry.”

Al Rumaihi was speaking at a media event at which Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing subsidiary of e-commerce giant Amazon, unveiled plans to build at least three huge data centres in Bahrain – its first data centres in the entire Middle East.

The move is expected to help public and private sector organisations use ‘big data’ and cloud computing to enhance their business activity, and create new jobs for Bahrain.

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