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In this day and age, more and more of your personal data is being collected, analyzed, and stored. From your name to contact details to your address and details about the devices you are using. Today, customer data is the life-blood of many businesses and startups all around the world.

In support of ongoing efforts to put Bahrain in the forefront of the digital transformation, the new Personal Data Protection Law was introduced by the Bahraini parliament, making it the first country in the GCC to establish an independent Data Protection authority. The law controls the use and the free movement of personal data, giving individuals and users rights and control over their personal data

Here’s what startups should know about the Personal Data Protection Law:

What’s considered as ‘Personal Data’? Some examples of personal data include: name, surname, home address, identification card number, location obtained via the app or mobile phone, an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Sensitive data that reveals a user’s race or ethnicity, origin, political opinions and religious beliefs enjoy superior protection.

‘Data Processing’ is defined as the act of collecting, recording, using, and even deleting personal data constitutes as data processing. Some examples include: administration of staff management and payroll, creating a contacts database with personal data, sending marketing emails, posting a photo of a person on a website and video recording that includes CCTV.

Here’s how you can ensure your startup is on the right track and in compliance with the new law:

  • Process personal data in the right manner.

Data must be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent way. It’s best to adopt security measures to shield the personal data from criminal hackers, unauthorized access, accidental loss, and destruction or damage. Here’s a tip: create and update data privacy policies on your websites and apps to promote transparency between you and your customers! There are several templates and examples available online to support you in ensuring your privacy policy is in line with data protection principles.

  • Let your customers know why you’re collecting their personal data.

Be specific and clear on the motives and purpose behind collecting customer’s personal data. Ask yourself, how is the data I’m collecting directly related to my startup’s activities? If you plan to use personal data for other reasons (or at all!), make sure you get your customer’s consent first before collecting their data!

  • Personal data you collect must be accurate and relevant.

When collecting data make sure that you are collecting just enough; don’t go overboard with the amount of information you collect! It’s vital to keep the data you collect accurate and specific.

Despite the critical factor of protecting personal data, the Personal Data Protection Law will also open new doors and opportunities for your startup!

  • Get the advantage over the big players.

Since your startup is in its early stages, you have more chances to build your Data Protection systems right from the very beginning and avoid unwanted penalties and hefty fines. Did you know that fines for breaching the Data Protection Law can vary from BD3,000 to reach up to BD20,000?

  • Make data privacy your unique selling point.

Your customers will have more control over how their personal information is handled by your startup. Transparency will boost your current and potential customers’ and investors’ confidence, add a huge bonus to your reputation as well as increase the chances to gain new leads!

  • Stand out from the crowd.

The law will offer you a competitive edge in the region! That’s because you will be able to process and transfer personal data securely while reducing the risk of breaches and reputational damage.

  • Boost your startup’s operational efficiencies.

The need to keep personal data up to date and accurate can help streamline your startup’s operations! So the next time you’re sending that newsletter or an important email, you’re certain that it will be received. Avoid wasting time and money on your marketing efforts with an inactive or outdated list of subscribers!

  • Create a personalized experience for your customers.

You will be able to custom-tailor your offerings and marketing campaigns to the specific needs and habits of your audience. This will boost click-throughs, conversion rates, and social sharing, and increase your marketing ROI as budgets and efforts will be spent in an informed and targeted manner.

Who would have thought that the Personal Data Protection Law would become a business enabler rather than a burden on your startup? Here at StartUp Bahrain, we believe that startups should make the most out of what is offered to them to ensure maximum use of their potential, and to streamline their data practices that will eventually help them to thrive and scale-up; be it locally or regionally. But don’t just take our word for it, we also asked two officials at the Bahrain Economic Development Board what they thought about the Data Protection Laws, and here’s what they had to say.

Buthaina Amin, Director, Legal Affairs at Bahrain EDB told us, “The Kingdom of Bahrain’s Personal Data Protection Law is a door opener for businesses that are built on individuals’ personal data and information. Security, transparency, and the integrity of data is more important in today’s world than it has ever been. The Personal Data Protection Law is a crucial milestone in the direction of safeguarding our personal information with the services and entities we trust them with.”.

And Dr. Jameel Al-Alawi, Sr. Legal Advisor, Legal Affairs at Bahrain EDB had this to say “The Personal Data Protection Law is a particularly important step in the Kingdom of Bahrain’s pioneering move towards becoming a digital economy. Alongside milestone regulations that have been launched such as the Cloud First policy, we believe this new law will serve as a framework for data protection in Bahrain’s digital economy. It is also a demonstration of Bahrain’s commitment towards ongoing regulatory enhancements in support of businesses as well as protection of citizens’ personal data”.

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