Qatar: Data Protection Compliance In The MENA Healthcare Sector

As cyber and data risks continue to grow, understanding the exposures and finding ways to put in place preventative measures and compliance programmes are key.

The recent NotPetya/ExPetr cyber-attack caused widespread damage to businesses around the globe. Following an initial 'watering hole' attack on a Ukraine based tax software vendor, M.E.Doc, NotPetya spread to Ukraine's electrical grid, airports and government offices. It reportedly infected a number of multinational companies including FedEx, Merck, Cadbury, Rosneft and AP Moller-Maersk.

NotPetya masquerades as ransomware (i.e. malicious software which blocks access to files temporarily until a ransom is paid). However, it is better categorised as a sabotage attack due to the fact that, as of today's date, there is no viable way to recover the encrypted files. It is unclear whether or not this was intentional or accidental as a result of a lack of sophistication on the part of the attackers.

NotPetya struck while many organisations were still recovering from the impact of the WannaCry virus, which infected the IT systems of over 200,000 businesses in more than 150 countries in April 2017 (see our May 2017 update). In both cases, the impact was particularly acute for organisations holding substantial amounts of information on individuals as the attacks put that data at risk of loss, destruction or theft.

Healthcare Sector Vulnerability

WannaCry brought the operations of 48 UK hospitals to a standstill and the NotPetya attack reportedly infected Heritage Valley Health System, a hospital and healthcare provider in the US.

Arguably, businesses operating in the healthcare sector are at a higher risk of being targeted by cyber criminals due to the fact that they hold high volumes of sensitive and valuable health data. This risk has increased in some jurisdictions because of factors such as public sector funding cuts and increased operating costs , which can mean that projects which require significant investment (such as an enterprise software or IT systems upgrade) are postponed or carried out incrementally to spread the cost.

Also, the sector is increasingly exploring options for more integrated healthcare with the establishment and maintenance of health information exchanges. While this can deliver better and more efficient care to patients, it can also create more vulnerability and risk through the number and types of connected stakeholders and devices.

Consequences of Cyber Breach

A cyber attack resulting in the loss or disclosure of personal data can have substantial consequences for the affected organisation. As well as financial liabilities and regulatory sanctions, the reputational damage can be significant. In addition, the organisation may face costs associated with engaging forensic IT consultants, legal and PR advisers, data reinstatement and potentially an IT security upgrade.

It is particularly important in the healthcare sector that patients and stakeholders feel safe, have trust and confidence in the system and are reassured not only in the current methods of healthcare delivery but also with regard to the new steps and developments that are to be introduced. The protection of personal information is a critical trust factor for patients.

Compliance Obligations in MENA

A number of countries have implemented laws to combat cybercrime. Typically, these criminalise hacking and denial of service attacks as criminal offences with severe penalties for those that infringe the law.

However, Qatar has gone much further in the fight against such crime and is the first GCC country to introduce a comprehensive national data protection law. The Personal Information Privacy Protection Law (PIPPL) came into force on 29 December 2016 and introduces a range of key requirements and measures that businesses must address to safeguard personal data. Organisations established or conducting business in Qatar should now be implementing compliance programmes so that systems and controls are put in place to meet the requirements of PIPPL.

The new Qatari law reflects a number of best international practices as well as supporting the country's intention to mitigate legal and reputational risk arising from data privacy breaches and cyber-attacks. Organisations that have not appropriately secured personal data could face a fine of up to QAR 5 million (USD 1.36 million). Any breach of the security measures in relation to health data is also likely to cause 'gross harm' to the patient concerned and therefore gives rise to an obligation to report the incident. The publicity flowing from a cyber breach will need to be carefully managed.

Similar data protection regimes are likely to be adopted across the GCC in the coming years, which means thinking about current processes now is vital.

Ensuring Compliance and Implementing Best Practice

In Qatar, a number of key principles reflecting standard organisational best practices have been codified by PIPPL:

  • The entity which is ultimately in charge of collecting the data (and any service provider it engages) is bound to 'take necessary measures to protect personal data from loss, damage, alteration and disclosure from any accidental or unlawful access or use.'
  • When determining what measures are appropriate, organisations are required to adopt measures that are 'consistent with the nature and significance of the personal data to be protected'.
  • A recognition that sensitive personal data (including health information) may not be processed without specific authorisation and controls.

It is likely that the Qatari Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) will work closely with the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) to ensure appropriate safeguards and precautions in relation to healthcare data. The MoTC is the competent authority for the implementation and enforcement of PIPPL.

The MoPH has also published a National Health, EHealth and Data Management Strategy which provides for a comprehensive vision and plan for future e-health developments to improve healthcare delivery in Qatar. It includes a legal and regulatory framework for digitisation and standards for e-health data with robust privacy and security principles.

A six-month grace period was implemented to give organisations in Qatar more time to comply with the significant change programme for PIPPL compliance. This expired on 29 June 2017, which means businesses operating in the healthcare sector in Qatar must move swiftly to meet the significantly higher bar for compliance and to avoid falling victim to the significant regulatory fines in the event of a breach.

Organisations operating elsewhere in the MENA region should also be considering their data handling and breach management policies to mitigate the more general risks and to prepare for expected future legislation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions