IGF 2018 WS #374
Data Protection and Privacy of Users in the MENA region

Organizer 1: Eman Jaradat, Jordan Open Source Association
Organizer 2: Mohamad Najem, SMEX.org
Organizer 3: Issa Mahasneh, Jordan Open Source Association
Organizer 4: Jessica Dheere, Social Media Exchange

Speaker 1: Wafa Ben-Hassine, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Mohamad Najem, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Eman Jaradat, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Jessica Dheere

Online Moderator

Jessica Dheere


Issa Mahasneh


Round Table - 90 Min


Mohamed Najem - Social Media Exchange (SMEX) represents SMEX a regional organization based in Beirut advocating for digital rights in the region Mohamed will provide a perspective on the policies or lack of them and with special focus on the accountability of private sector including platforms and telecommunication companies.

Eman Jaradat - Jordan Open Source Association (JOSA) represents civil society in Jordan working to advocate for protection of the digital rights especially privacy and data protection. Eman will provide a perspective on the policies or lack of them and with special focus on biometric data processing and protection of data.

Wafa Ben Hussein - Access Now MENA Policy Counsel and based in Tunisia. Wafa will provide a perspective on the policies or lack of them and with special focus on the recent introduction of data protection laws in North Africa and the approach leading to it weather economic or human rights with a focus on Tunisia application of existing data protection law since 2004

Private Sector - to be confirmed: we are aiming to get one of the leading platform in the region with user base to participate on the discussion of regulating data protection or design by privacy principles

Academia - to be confirmed: we are aiming to get an academic working on the privacy issues to highlight the discussion on these issues in the region and weather its gaining more interest. in addition to assurances for media freedoms and access to information with the introduction to a personal data protection laws


The roundtable will bring together lead researchers from different countries both in Asia Pacific Group and African Group. The speakers represent civil society, private sector and academia. We will also strive for gender parity. Already three of four confirmed speakers are women. Two of our speakers are attending IGF for the first time

1. Update on the policy changes on data protection and privacy in the MENA region

2. Accountability of companies on data protection and privacy including telecommunication companies and platforms weather based solely in the region or have regional offices.

3. Discussion on the data protection and privacy issues and internet users understanding of its importance.

4. biometric data collection and processing and the risks associated with it with the lack of data protection laws both for citizens and refugees in the region

5. Assurances for media freedoms and access to information with the introduction to a personal data protection laws

We will give each speaker few minutes to present their perspective on privacy and data protection in the MENA region. We will then open the discussion for audience members (both in the room and online) to share their own perspectives and experiences, as well as ask questions. We will advertise the session and encourage those who faces similar issues to attend, and the roundtable format will allow us to fully draw upon the expertise in the room.

With the introduction of GDRP in Europe and the discussion on the privacy and data protection issues and policies around the world. MENA region countries continue mostly to ignore the importance of introducing data protection laws and establishing independent bodies to enforce the protection of its citizens data.

Despite countries in North Africa recent move to introduce data protection laws motivated by their strong ties with the European Union without discussing the policies on the national level and not approaching it from a genuine motivation to protect human rights. Several countries in the region have introduced biometric data collection weather its for the registration of SIM cards in most countries in the gulf or the biometric ID introduced by the Jordanian government. Increasingly governments offer e-services for its citizens without clear mechanisms and assurances of data protection.

In addition while users in the region before heavily depended on services that are located in the US or Europe recently more platforms in the region have gained popularity and user base which again raising the question about the states obligations in protecting users and define a policy framework for regulating these companies.

Online Participation

JOSA and SMEX will promote the session, and encourage remote participation via Twitter using a predetermined hashtag, and will also solicit questions ahead of time from those who cannot attend in person, by publicizing the workshop on Twitter and with blog posts.

Throughout the session #IGF2018 will be used and so will #ictlaws. We will set up systems for anonymous and audience questions and comments to be streamed and displayed as the meeting progresses.

Throughout the session, a dedicated communications person will be available to facilitate online participation and to increase the visibility of the session and IGF among the networks of the co-organisers. This person will also be working on the visual aid for the whole session towards setting up the chart that identifies key issues raised.