Privacy Laws in Africa and the Middle East

Once considered a privacy free-for-all, Africa and the Middle East have radically transformed their privacy regimes over the past few years. A critical mass of 17 countries in the region now have comprehensive privacy laws that regulate the collection and use of personal information by the private sector. Almost half these laws are either new or recently amended in the past three years.

While these laws impose many privacy obligations similar to those found in Europe, Latin America and Asia, the reality is that there are 17 different registration and 16 different cross-border rules and procedures. Moreover, only half of these countries permit personal information to be processed on the basis of a balance of interest exception. Two countries require breach notification, and one has voluntary procedures. Many of these regimes are still in their formative stages, in large part because the regulators are not yet in place; however, in some of the countries with the more established privacy regimes, the regulators have been stepping up their enforcement efforts.

Originally published in Privacy & Security Law Report, 13 PVLR 717, 04/28/2014.

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