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Saudi Arabia’s Evolving Data Privacy Landscape

As technology continues to develop, countries worldwide have begun to recognise and address the importance of data privacy. Saudi Arabia is no exception. As part of its Vision 2030 economic reform plan, the government has prioritised data privacy and security, creating new regulations to ensure that financial information is collected, used, and stored securely.

In the past, financial institutions have had the freedom to collect, store, and process customers’ personal information with few restrictions. With the introduction of the new regulations, however, financial institutions in Saudi Arabia must now comply with strict data privacy requirements to ensure customer data is protected. This will bring Saudi Arabia in line with international standards, while also providing greater protection for its citizens. In this article, we will explore these changes and the implications for financial institutions in Saudi Arabia.

How are Data Privacy Laws & Regulations Changing?

The government of Saudi Arabia announced the new Personal Data Protection law in 2021, which aims to protect and regulate the collection, storage, and use of personal data by institutions and businesses in the Kingdom. Since the initial announcement, there was a delay in the implementation of the law to give more time for consultation with stakeholders. After these considerations are taken into account, the law is expected to come into force in March 2023.

The new data privacy regulations aim to safeguard customer information and protect it from misuse or abuse. Financial institutions are required to meet the requirements of these laws, which include implementing specific measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of customers’ personal data.

To comply with these laws, financial institutions must take the following steps:

  • Create and implement a data protection policy
  • Appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) to oversee compliance
  • Implement technical and organisational measures to protect customer data
  • Conduct regular risk assessments and audits
  • Ensure that all customer data is securely stored and processed
  • Use robust encryption technologies to protect customer data
  • Provide customers with clear and adequate information on how their data is being used
  • Put in place procedures for dealing with data breaches
  • Put in place mechanisms for customers to exercise their rights under the regulations

It is important to note that these regulations are still in the process of being developed and, while they may be subject to change, all financial institutions must ensure that they are aware of the latest developments and regulations by March 2023 to remain compliant.

The Collaboration of Finance & Tech Teams is Key

The process of compliance with data privacy regulations can be a daunting task for any financial institution in Saudi Arabia. But the responsibility for compliance does not lie solely with the finance teams. It requires a collaborative effort between the finance and technology teams to ensure that all regulations are being met and that customer data is adequately protected.

Technology teams must be involved in the implementation of any regulatory requirements, as they are the ones with the technical expertise to implement the necessary measures. Inter-departmental communication and collaboration are essential to ensure that all requirements are being met. This includes sharing information and knowledge between the finance and technology teams to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Everything from the training of staff to developing and implementing an internal data protection policy must be done in collaboration with the technology team.

By working together to understand and comply with the new data privacy regulations, financial institutions in Saudi Arabia can ensure that customer data is adequately protected and remain compliant with the law.