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Live debate: Privacy and Personal Data Protection Laws: The Development of Comprehensive Online Safety Policies in the MENA Region


Privacy and Personal Data Protection Laws: The Development of Comprehensive Online Safety Policies in the MENA Region

Date: Friday 21 August 2015
Time: 15:00 – 16:00 CET
Topic: Privacy and Personal Data Protection Laws: The Development of Comprehensive Online Safety Policies in the MENA Region.
Language: English
Platform: Google Hangouts
•    Hibbas Abbas: Regulatory affairs specialist Zain (Sudan)
•    Yosr Jouini: IT engineer, Blogger, Civil society activist INSAT (Tunisia) 
•    Omar Esbaitan: ICT Manager, Head of R&D EAST Team (Palestine)
•    Walid Al Saqaf: Post Doc, Member of Board of Trustees, Internet Society (Yemen)
August IGMENA hangout debate will cover data protection and privacy in the MENA region. The focus will be on ways to balance the benefits of privacy protection and cyber-security laws against state surveillance in a safe information age. In the Arab world region, the use of technology didn't bring high benefits (including greater efficiency and convenience with regard to gathering, storing and using data). People have low expectations with regard to data privacy and the protection of end-users from arbitrary government interference.

In many MENA region countries, the privacy of an individual is not protected under general provisions of the law. Laws make it an offence to disclose secret information, or use it for his or her own benefit, or that of another party, unless such disclosure or use is permitted by law or by the consent of the person to whom the secret pertains.

The purpose of this debate is to illustrate that governments have failed to incorporate data protection and privacy-related provisions into national legal frameworks. Debate participants will discuss how law and policy can prevent companies, regulatory authorities, and other government entities from using personal information that falls within protected ‘secret’ information under penal provisions? 

How doesTelecommunications Law influence the privacy rights of individuals? Are telecommunications service providers responsible for protecting customer data?What happens when a telecommunications provider fails to take all practical steps to prevent online safety by regulatory authorities? How can the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority issue new policies to secure Consumer personal Information that might apply their activities, even if there may be no data protection laws?

We need new laws to protect the use of end-users privacy and personal data to be able to circumvent governments surveillance, businesses collection and processing of personal data by developing effective legislative instruments. The architecture of the Internet itself raises new concerns often at the opposite end of these issues lays the end user 's need and right for the protection of one's privacy and personal data.

The discussion will tackle laws and policies dealing with data protection and information privacy in Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen and Palestine. Participants will examine how national approaches to data privacy and protection impact anonymous expression, social networks, and cloud computing
Debate questions:
1-How do citizens and end-users in your country perceive online privacy and data protection?

2- Has this perception changed since Edward Snowden revealed information about the NSA’s surveillance practices?

3-What is the state of data protection and information privacy laws and policies in your country. What is the impact on citizens with respect to anonymous expression, social networks, and cloud computing?

4-What are the challenges related to privacy in your country? What role do government actors, telecommunication companies and civil society play?

5-Are there any policies or standards related to information security and data encryption that support privacy-protective, resilient, safe, transparent, and accountable Internet ecosystem?
IGMENA organizes monthly online debates on Internet Governance (IG), addressing topics covering local, regional, and global issues.

The main objective of these debates is to facilitate the discussion on IG issues specific to the MENA region. It encourages more interaction among IG and policy stakeholders to share their contribution on the current developments in the field. The debates aim to meet the specific needs of Arab netizens and to put forward timely and relevant topics that will encourage participants to exchange points of views, articulate challenges and concerns, and define shared concepts. This series of live debates will also serve as a tool to keep the IGMENA community growing, connected, and active about current IG issues.

Each session has a main speaker who presents the debate topic, accompanied by several other contributors. The discussion is moderated and facilitated by IGMENA, providing space for viewers to share their comments, post their contributions, and raise their questions to the speakers to feed the debate.  

The language used during the online debates is either Arabic or English. The debates are open to the general public. The audience includes the IGMENA community, networks and organisations active in the IG field from the Arab region, and anyone from the international audience who would like to participate and contribute.

One week before each live debate, an update with information about the forthcoming debate on Google Hangouts is published on the IGMENA website and shared with the IGMENA network. Those who are interested will be able to join the debate and share their comments until the end of the live session. The video is available on the IGMENA website after the live broadcast (via the IGMENA Youtube channel), open for new comments as well as suggestions on new topics. In addition, a summary of the main points addressed during the online debate is published on the IGMENA website.

This series of debates is part of IGMENA’s advocacy for freedom of expression and freedom of information in the Arab region through raising awareness among various stakeholders and engaging them in the Internet Governance process.