The Saudi Data and AI Authority

by | Jan 27, 2022 | Corporate Law, Law Firms

January 27, 2022

It is no doubt that every country wishing to achieve certain goals in the future must invest in technology. The internet is considered the greatest invention and has revolutionized how businesses and administrative processes are conducted. In the modern world, data is a critical element for business success and effective administration. The Saudi Arabian government is among those at the forefront of making data an essential asset for the future. To achieve its vision 2030, the Saudi Government established the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA). This legislative body is mandated to formulate and implement policies to govern how data is collected, processed, and used within the Kingdom.

Therefore, it’s important for law firms in Riyadh to catch up with the changes. Some laws are formulated by SDAIA, such as the Personal Data Protection Law, and we see many international law firms in Riyadh have published articles on it. The Personal Data Protection Law, restrict the transfer of data outside the Kingdom. This implies that longer procedures are to be followed for cases that require coordination across national borders. The transformation strategy by SDAIA, approved in 2019, gave the organization ownership of the national data and AI agenda. The approval was in the aim of achieving the Kingdom’s highest potential in data resources and achieving the vision 2030.

As part of data collection and utilization strategies, SDAIA organizes tech-based competitions for students from Saudi Universities. The NEOM AI challenge is one of the competitions organized and hosted by SDAIA. The competition brings together students with different AI-oriented projects touching on energy, entertainment, and mobility. These challenges help SDAIA source innovative solutions to various challenges as the Kingdom moves towards vision 2030. Artathon is another technology-based competition organized by SDAIA. This competition also brings together different artists and AI developers to create of collaborative art. From such competitions, the development of robotics and other facilities is achieved.

Other than regulation of how data is collected and used, SDAIA is also responsible for the development of tech-based programs for government use. One of their recent products for the government is Tawakkalna. Tawakkalna is a digital platform used to issue movement permits electronically. This App was developed in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, where movement was restricted. To help in the recovery of the economy, Tawakkalna has been updated with features that monitor users’ health conditions. Another program developed by SDAIA is TABAUD, a mobile application that conveys critical and proactive information to users. Through TABAUD, residents of Saudi Arabia can request health support directly from the Kingdom’s ministry of health.

The implementation of the Personal Data Protection Law takes effect in March 2022. All parties affected are expected to be fully compliant with the law within a year from when the law is effected. The law contains a variety of requirements set by SDAIA that data owners, controllers, and users must comply with. Some of the visionary policies in the law are those on cloud computing; this is considered the future of computing. Saudi lawyers are expected to master the law before full implementation, as they will need it in their practice and with clients. Some law firms in Riyadh are already training their staff to operate as per the law, since it’s a requirement by SDAIA for all companies dealing with personal data.

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