Qatar eyes new cybercrime, data privacy laws

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To help counter the rising number of online attacks in Qatar, the country is working on passing a new law on cyber crime.

The Critical Infrastructure Information Protection law, which awaits Cabinet approval, takes into account international and regional regulations on cyber crime, Brigadier Hamad Ahmed Al Mohanadi, Director of Legal Affairs for the Ministry of Interior, told Al Sharq.

He didn’t going into specifics, but Qatar Today reports that the legislation will focus on protecting key systems in the country, including power grids, oil and gas production, financial transactions, healthcare and government operations.

Vulnerable target

Qatar is growing increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks, Justin Doo, Symantec’s MENA cloud and security practices director, said in January.

“In 2013, we foresee a continued increase in spam activity, as well as a steady rise in targeted attacks in Qatar with financial and political motivation,” he predicted.

Indeed, in March, hackers loyal to embattled Syrian president Bashar Al Assad hijacked the social media accounts of Qatar Foundation in retaliation for the country’s support of the opposition. For several hours, the Syrian Electronic Army posted insults and offensive messages to thousands of people before being taken offline.

The group of hackers has in the past targeted Qatar-based media outlet Al Jazeera and several other international news organizations.

Privacy rules

Meanwhile, ictQatar, which worked on the cyber crime law, told Qatar Today that legislation on information privacy is also in the works.

News about that law first surfaced more than a year ago, when it was reported that Qatar was set to establish the region’s first national data privacy law. 

The legislation will focus on protecting information regarding children, location data and sensitive personal information like religious affiliation and medical conditions.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Ivana Di Carlo

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