Workshop discussed data protection landscape in GCC

A man works next to servers specialised in cyber security during the 10th International Cybersecurity Forum in Lille on January 23, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 June 2018
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Workshop discussed data protection landscape in GCC

  • The personal data could be any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier
  • GDPR will affect any company in any sector in the Middle East and the GCC countries that sell goods or provide services to any of the EU member states

RIYADH: Business organizations need to be aware of the risks of prosecution and violating the rules of GDPR, a new set of rules that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the EU, said Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at the Center of Excellence in Information Assurance.
This could result in huge penalties of up to 4 percent of their global turnover or €20 million, whichever is greater, Khan said. 
The personal data could be any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier.
“The GDPR will not only affect companies within the EU, but it also has global scope, which would impact any company that offers goods or services to the EU residents or monitors their online behavior, for example, online shopping habits,” Khan pointed out.
In addition, GDPR will affect any company in any sector in the Middle East and the GCC countries that sell goods or provide services to any of the EU member states, or handles any of the data of its approximately half a billion inhabitants, Khan said, adding that these companies should have to develop a strategy and processes to abide by the new regulation as soon as possible.”
Khan represented the Kingdom at a workshop at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London entitled “Data Protection, Privacy and the GDPR: Is the GCC Ready?” in which he discussed the current data protection landscape in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.
Khan, who has returned from the London workshop, told Arab News on Monday: “The aim of this forum was to bring together business leaders, lawyers, academics, and policymakers from the GCC as well as from the UK and key international institutions to discuss the current data protection landscape in the Gulf, especially the newly implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
“The GDPR, which has been enforced on May 25, 2018, focuses on keeping businesses more transparent and expanding the privacy rights of the people.”
He said that the increasing numbers of data and cyber breaches in the Gulf have intensified the discussions around data protection and privacy and have triggered several initiatives at the government, public and private sector levels.
New technology developments mean that there is both a greater supply and demand for data than ever before but, as recent events have shown, data can be harvested for political as well as commercial reasons.
With the adoption of the European Union’s GDPR, the GCC businesses have been working to put in place policies and measures to comply with the new requirements and to avoid the hefty fines due to non-compliance.
Khan added that the participants at the event discussed key topics on the GDPR, its core concepts and principles, implications and impact on GCC countries, the relationship with data protection authorities, enforcement and sanctions, data protection and privacy landscape, and the preparedness of the GCC countries for it.
“Data breaches could happen inevitably and personal data could be lost, stolen or otherwise released into the hands of malicious people for misuse, but with the newly mandated GDPR, organizations as well as those who collect, process, and manage data would be obliged to protect its misuse to respect the rights of data owners,” Khan said.


Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki at a press briefing. (SPA file photo)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

  • Houthis want to disturb peace, says coalition spokesman
  • Stockholm peace agreement under strain

RIYADH: The Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government is committed to protecting regional and global security, a spokesman said Monday.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki was asked at a press briefing about Houthi militias threatening to target the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“This is their way to disturb peace,” Al-Maliki replied. “Previously the Houthis targeted Riyadh with a ballistic missile, violating all international laws by attacking a city that has more than 8 million civilians. We take all precautions to protect civilians and vital areas. The coalition works to protect regional and international security.”

Al-Maliki said Houthis had targeted Saudi border towns several times, the most recent incident taking place in Abha last Friday.

But the Saudi Royal Air Defense Force had shot down a drone that was targeting civilians, he added.

He said four Saudi nationals and an Indian expatriate were injured in the attack because of falling debris.

The drone wreckage showed the characteristics and specifications of Iranian manufacturing, he said, which proved Iran was continuing to smuggle arms to the militias.

He warned the Houthis to refrain from targeting civilians because the coalition, in line with international humanitarian law, had every right to counter such threats.

He said the coalition was making efforts to neutralize ballistic missiles and dismantle their capabilities, as the coalition’s joint command would not allow the militia to possess weapons that threatened civilian lives and peace.

Al-Maliki reiterated that the Houthis were targeting Yemeni civilians and continued to violate international laws. 

He also urged Yemenis to try their best to prevent children from being captured by Houthis, who were using them as human shields and child soldiers.

His comments came as the UN tried to salvage a peace deal that was seen as crucial for ending the country’s four-year war.

The Stockholm Agreement was signed by the Yemeni government and Houthi representatives last December.

The main points of the agreement were a prisoner exchange, steps toward a cease-fire in the city of Taiz, and a cease-fire agreement in the city of Hodeidah and its port, as well as ports in Salif and Ras Issa.

Militants triggered the conflict when they seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and attempted to occupy large parts of the country. An Arab coalition intervened in support of the internationally recognized government in March 2015.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015.

Earlier this month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump’s administration opposed curbs on American assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

“The way to alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight, but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat the Iranian-backed rebels and ensure a just peace,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington.