The new data protection regulations

The Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), an international financial free zone in Abu Dhabi, has issued new data protection regulations on 11 February 2021. A transition period of 12 months is proposed for current establishments, and six months for new establishments, from 14 February 2021.

The previous ADGM data protection framework was published in 2015 and amended in 2018. Although it aligned with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), certain key areas, such as the requirement to nominate a data protection officer (DPO), accountability and penalties, were not previously included. The updated Regulation is a new chapter in the ADGM’s long-standing commitment to globally recognized standards of data protection, being largely modelled on the European Union’s GDPR. The goal is to establish enhanced governance and transparency requirements that will facilitate the ADGM’s alignment with international laws and regulations.

The revised regulation provides controls that reflect recognition of the importance of personal data and fundamental protection of data subjects’ rights. This includes applicability and governance of personal data in emerging technologies.

One of the significant features of the new data protection regulation is the requirement to establish an independent data protection office to monitor compliance with the regulation.

What about the previous ADGM data protection regulations?

The ADGM Data Protection Regulation will supersede and substitute the existing Data Protection Regulations of 2015 (as amended in 2018).

What are the advantages of the new regulations and their alignment to the GDPR?

  • Ensures the ADGM’s supervisory authority follows international best practices, which have already been adopted by EU supervisory authorities and the European Data Protection Board, and that may be useful in the ADGM 
  • Enables organizations, as well as their clients and business partners to capitalize on their familiarity with the GDPR, making it easier to adopt 
  • Aligns with a globally accepted approach to data privacy 
  • Provides a framework and guidance for disputes brought before the ADGM Courts 
  • Further positions the United Arab Emirates (UAE) when it comes to designing data privacy legislation, potentially attracting foreign investors and increasing confidence with respect to data protection

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