PDPL UAE: How to Comply with This Law

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Nowadays, when personal information spreads fast, businesses must grasp and follow the rules for guarding that data. One major set of laws is the PDPL UEA or Personal Data Protection Law.

This article serves as a comprehensive guide to help businesses navigate the complexities of PDPL compliance. Whether it’s the scope of the law or carrying out the necessary precautions, we’ll hit all the key points so your business can get on board with these regulations.

Let’s dive into the world of data protection and explore how you can safeguard personal data under the PDPL UAE.

Key Takeaways

The new personal data protection law in the UAE is a big deal for any business that deals with UAE resident’s personal information, regardless of their geographic location.

Businesses must make sure they get people’s consent before using their data. Businesses must also provide the right to access, rectification, erasure, and data portability.

Businesses must be aware of significant repercussions, including monetary fines and potential imprisonment, for failing to comply with the PDPL UAE’s regulations.

PDPL UAE Explained

The new privacy rules in the UAE, which people call the Personal Data Protection Law or Federal Decree-Law No. 45 from 2021, are a big deal for keeping information confidential over there.

This comprehensive law, which came into effect on January 2, 2022. It keeps people’s personal information private and protects their data from misuse and unauthorized access.

The UAE Data Office watches over how the law gets enforced, and the regulator was set up under Federal Decree-Law No. 44/2021.

Part of the UAE Data Office’s job is to make necessary amendments to the law as technology advances. They also take complaints if there are issues and put out guidance to assist with sticking to the regulations.

The main goal is to have a solid system for managing and protecting UAE data subjects. It spells out what rights and responsibilities people have – the businesses and people involved.

Key provisions of the law include:

Consent: The law mandates the need for explicit consent from individuals for processing their data, barring certain exceptions such as public interest or legal requirements.

Data Subject Rights: data subject rights empower individuals with rights over their data, including the right to request corrections and restrict or stop the processing of their data.

Transparency in Data Processing: Businesses are required to be transparent about their data collection and processing practices, ensuring individuals are informed about the purpose, storage duration, and potential sharing of their data.

Cross-border Data Transfer: The PDPL sets requirements for the data transfer and sharing of personal information outside the UAE, ensuring adequate levels of protection.

The PDPL law applies to any processing of sensitive personal information and other personal details through electronic systems, whether in the UAE or not, as long as it relates to people living there.

PDPL UAE Scope of Application

PDPL UAE Scope of Application.jpg

PDPL UAE Scope of Application.jpg

The Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL) in the UAE broadly encompasses the processing of personal information, applying to both electronic and partial electronic data handling within and outside the UAE.

It covers how any business – inside or outside the country – handles the personal information of UAE residents, they have to follow this law. There are some key exceptions, though.

Government agencies don’t need to comply, and neither do security organizations or the court system. Specific financial details and medical data are also exempt since they fall under other existing laws.

But even with the exceptions, this law aims to seriously improve individual privacy protections without totally handcuffing important operations in government and key sectors.

So, any business needs to fully get what’s covered and what’s not. That’s the only way they can be sure their data handling meets the expectations spelled out under this major privacy regulation. Falling short could mean steep penalties.

Rights Provided Under PDPL UAE

The PDPA empowers individuals with several rights concerning their personal data, aligning with global data protection standards. These rights are essential for individuals to maintain control over their personal information in the digital age.

Right to be Informed

The Right to be Informed is foundational to data protection. It requires controllers to inform data subjects, before processing begins, about the purposes for which their personal data will be used. Also, the entities with whom their data will be shared and the safeguards in place for cross-border data processing.

Additionally, upon request, data subjects can obtain information about the types of personal data being processed, criteria for data storage periods, and measures in place for data breach response.

Right to Access

The Right to Access under PDPL UAE allows individuals to request copies of their personal data that businesses have collected. This right ensures transparency and empowers individuals to verify the legality and accuracy of their data processing.

The data provided should be in a clear, concise, and usable format, facilitating the data subjects’ further understanding and potentially contesting the data use. Implementing this right effectively means businesses must have systems in place to respond to such requests efficiently and free of charge.

Right to Rectification

The Right to Rectification in the UAE’s privacy law means people can get businesses to correct inaccurate or incorrect personal data they have on file.

This matters for keeping personal data in your file correct, which is essential for consumers if your business has inaccurate information about them. Your business must make it easy for people to ask for that and take care of it quickly without you charging them.

Right to Erasure

The right to be forgotten is about letting people ask businesses to delete their personal information if they don’t want a business to have it anymore. Businesses must establish clear procedures to handle these requests effectively.

They must also ensure these procedures are easily accessible and understandable, enabling data subjects to exercise their rights without undue burden.

Right to Object/Opt-Out

Under PDPL UAE, individuals have the right to object to the processing of their personal data, especially for purposes like direct marketing and statistical surveys.

This right enables them to have a say in how their data is used, ensuring that their preferences are respected. Businesses must provide a clear and straightforward mechanism for data subjects to exercise this right, allowing them to opt-out easily from certain data processing activities.

Right to Data Portability

The Right to Data Portability says consumers can transport their information between businesses easily. It’s particularly relevant in scenarios where consumers wish to switch service providers.

This helps if someone wants to change to a different service. Businesses must facilitate this right by providing the data in a structured, commonly used, and machine-readable format.

Right to Avoid Automated Decision-making

The UAE privacy law lets people dispute choices made just by automated processing, even profiling, if it affects them.

Businesses need to ensure transparency in automated decision-making processes and provide mechanisms for individuals to seek human intervention, express their points of view, and contest decisions.

PDPL UAE Checklist for Applicable Businesses

PDPL UAE Checklist for Applicable Businesses.png

PDPL UAE Checklist for Applicable Businesses.png

To comply with the Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL) in the UAE, businesses must adhere to several key requirements. While the Executive Regulations, expected to detail operational aspects of the PDPL, are yet to be issued, businesses can prepare by considering the following steps based on the current understanding of the law.

Detailed Scope Understanding

For a thorough understanding of the PDPL UAE’s scope, businesses should first conduct a data audit to map out all personal data they handle, especially that of UAE residents. This involves identifying data sources, collection methods, and the nature of the data processed.

Tools like data mapping software can be used to track and visualize the flow of personal data within the organization. It’s essential to consult legal counsel or compliance experts to interpret how the law applies to your specific business operations, especially if you deal with cross-border data processing.

Implementing an effective consent management process involves using digital tools for online consent management. Having a compliant cookie banner is an essential aspect of this.

What does that look like for real? Well, you should have a clear consent form on your site explaining the data you process and why. Give people the power to opt in or out. Keep good records of all that agreement for any audits down the road.

Data Subject Rights Management

To manage data subject rights, integrate a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that can handle data subject requests efficiently. You must set up ways for your customers to ask about their info and what you do with it.

Make it as easy as possible for them – maybe a certain email or a spot on your website where they can ask for their data or ask you to edit it if something’s wrong. Customer data subject access requests should be able to come from anywhere, so you should train your team to recognize those requests and pass them to the people who can action them.

It’s recommended to get back to people within one month to avoid any complaints or issues for your companies.

Cross Border Data Transfer Compliance

Ensure compliance with data transfer by first assessing the data protection laws of the recipient country. Utilize Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) or Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs) as legal mechanisms for data transfer.

A data transfer across borders is also allowed if explicit consent is given and it does not conflict with national security or public safety.

Consider using data transfer tools that encrypt data during transit and ensure that the receiving entity has adequate data protection measures in place. Regularly review these transfer agreements and practices to ensure ongoing compliance with PDPL UAE.

Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs)

A DPIA should start with identifying the need for processing and the associated risks. This involves analyzing how personal data is used and determining the impact on data privacy.

Utilize DPIA templates or tools that guide you through the assessment, ensuring that you consider all relevant aspects, such as necessity, proportionality, and risks to individuals.

Document the outcomes and implement necessary measures to mitigate identified risks. Regularly update the DPIA, especially when there are significant changes in data processing activities.

Comprehensive Data Processing Records

Maintain detailed data processing records using a data inventory or data management software. Record the type of data processed, its purpose, duration of processing, and details of data sharing or transfer. Ensure that these records are accurate and up-to-date.

Conduct periodic reviews to verify the accuracy and completeness of these records. These records are essential not only for compliance but also for responding to data subject requests or regulatory inquiries.

Appointment of a Data Protection Officer (DPO)

For corporate compliance with PDPL UAE (Article 10), it’s crucial to assess if your data processing activities necessitate appointing a data protection officer.

If your in-house resources are limited, consider outsourced compliance services like Captain Compliance for expert assistance in fulfilling this role. If required, choose a candidate with expertise in data protection laws and practices.

The DPO should have the authority to oversee data protection strategies, conduct compliance checks, and act as a point of contact with regulatory authorities. Outsourcing to specialized compliance firms can be considered for businesses lacking in-house expertise.

Robust Cybersecurity Measures

Develop a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that includes installing firewalls and antivirus software and employing encryption techniques for data protection. Businesses must be smart these days about keeping their computer systems and data safe from cybercriminals.

A good practice is to put up some firewalls and antivirus systems and encrypt all personal information. Stay on top of patches and updates, too, so you don’t get caught with some new hack. Make sure only the right people can access sensitive information with proper access controls.

Also, you probably want to train your team on spotting phishing attempts and other tricks that bad actors use, and basically, you must keep adapting as the cyber risk landscape changes. It’s not easy, but paying attention to cybersecurity will save you headaches.

In-depth Employee Training

Training your team about privacy rules can help avoid issues. You must cover the basics under UAE law, like keeping personal information confidential and using it fairly.

Make it interactive so your team stays tuned in; maybe some video training modules people can click through and use examples from real situations to show how the rules apply on the job day-to-day.

Check if they soaked it all up with little quizzes or getting their thoughts. Keeping up with training gets everyone on the same page about handling personal information in a compliant manner.

Rigorous Regular Audits

Businesses must check in regularly to make sure they are keeping UAE privacy rules. Give all your data handling and consent logs a good look-see. Run through your policies and systematically assess, too – checklists can help make sure you’re not missing anything.

You may also bring in some external auditors (like Captain Compliance), get their take, and they can give you an honest view of where you stand. Ensure you know any action items you need to take compliance after.

For anything that needs a fix, now’s the time to step up and hire a compliance professional like Captain Compliance to ensure your business’s practices become compliant.

Non-Compliance Penalties

The new personal data protection law (PDPL) in the UAE means businesses better watch their step. Breaking the rules once they’re finalized could lead to some hefty fines:

Monetary Fines: No specific fines have been outlined so far. It will be up to the UAE Data Office to enforce the penalty they see sit.

Imprisonment: In more severe cases, such as unauthorized interception or hacking of data systems, the law may impose imprisonment sentences.

Sector-Specific Penalties: Various sectors have their own set of penalties for data protection violations. For instance, in the healthcare sector, there are stringent rules regarding the storage and transfer of health data, non-compliance with which could lead to significant repercussions.

Business Restrictions: In some cases, businesses may face restrictions or revocation of licenses, especially in regulated sectors like telecommunications and healthcare.


Navigating the PDPL UAE’s requirements can be demanding. There are so many twists, turns, and dead ends that it’s easy to get lost. Where do you even start? Luckily, the compliance consultants at Captain Compliance can guide you. We’ve studied intricate laws like the PDPL inside and out, so we know all the ins and outs.

We’ll walk with you step-by-step, guiding you through how the laws apply to your unique business. Get in touch with us to embark on a streamlined journey towards PDPL compliance.


What is PDPL UAE?

It’s a new law focused on protecting people’s personal information that applies to any business processing UAE residents’ data. Whether you’re a local business or an international one handling that data electronically, you must comply to avoid penalties and make sure people’s information is safe.

If you require further information or assistance, our team at Captain Compliance is ready to guide you through the complexities of compliance.

Who Must Comply with PDPL UAE?

Any business that deals with the personal information of people living in the UAE is required to comply with PDPL UAE (with some exemptions). This includes local and international businesses that handle personal data through electronic systems. Compliance is critical to avoid legal and financial penalties and to ensure the protection of personal data.

Find out if your business needs to comply with PDPL UAE by visiting our informational page here.

Does My Business Need a Data Protection Officer (DPO) for PDPL Compliance?

Whether a business needs a Data Protection Officer (DPO) under PDPL UAE depends on the scale and nature of data processing activities. They’re key for data handlers to keep risks in check and respect people’s rights when it comes to their personal information.

To understand if your business requires a DPO, read more here.

How Can Captain Compliance Assist with PDPL UAE Compliance?

We offer expertise and tailored solutions to get businesses doing what they need to comply, whether that’s auditing where you’re at, mapping out a solid data protection plan, or just some good old consultation on best practices.

For specialized assistance with PDPL UAE compliance, reach out to us.

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