The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (‘NTRA’) announced, on 20 May 2019, that it had submitted a note to the public prosecution against a number of companies for sending unsolicited SMS messages to individuals without obtaining a license from the NTRA, following complaints received on the same. In particular, the NTRA highlighted that it had initiated legal procedures and opened an investigation into companies, namely in the pesticide industry, for sending spam messages in violation of Articles 72 and 76 of the Telecom Regulation Law No. 10 of 2003 (‘the Telecom Law’) and Article 25 of the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Law (Law No. 175 of 2018) (‘the Cyber Crime Law’).
Mohamed Hashish, Partner at Soliman, Hashish & Partners, told DataGuidance by OneTrust, ”According to Article 25 of the Cyber Crime Law, it is prohibited to send bulk e-messages to any person without this person’s approval or provide any system or website with personal data for the purpose of promoting goods or services without their permission. A person that violates these restrictions shall be subject to a penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than six months and/or a fine between EGP 50,000 (approx. €2,660) and EGP 100,000 (approx. €5,320). [Furthermore,] any person that intentionally disturbs or harasses any other person using telecommunications devices shall be subject to a penalty of imprisonment for a period between one day and three years and/or a fine between EGP 500 (approx. €27) and EGP 20,000 (approx. €1,060). [Intentional disturbance or harassment] can also take the form of sending bulk SMSes to any person without their approval, which is why the NTRA is now moving against a number of companies sending bulk SMSes to individuals in Egypt for promoting certain services and products.”
Providing bulk SMSes […] in Egypt without being licensed by the NTRA is prohibited
The NTRA stated that it had exercised its powers under Article 25 of the Cyber Crime Law in relation to the protection of the inviolability of the private lives of citizens from unsolicited SMS marketing. The NTRA noted that the action it had taken was in line with the Government’s consideration towards the protection of individuals’ privacy. In addition, the NTRA addressed the applicable direct marketing rules in light of the data protection bill (‘the Bill’) that is being examined by the Egyptian House of Representatives’ Telecommunications Committee, noting that the Bill sets out an obligation for companies to obtain consent from individuals when dealing with their personal data.
Hashish concluded, ”The provision of bulk SMS services is considered a telecommunications service that is regulated by the NTRA. The license [issued by the NTRA] grants the licensees thereof the right to provide bulk SMS services for collective (one to many) and individual (one to one) end users through the networks of the licensed mobile phone service providers in Egypt. Providing bulk SMS services (as well as other telecommunications services) in Egypt without a license [issued] by the NTRA is prohibited, and a person that violates this restriction shall be subject to a penalty of imprisonment for a period between six months and five years and/or a fine between EGP 50,000 (approx. €2,660) and EGP 500,000 (approx. €26,600), in accordance with Article 72 of the Telecom Law. Furthermore, the competent court shall confiscate all devices and equipment used in committing this crime as well as order a reasonable compensation.”
Weronika Natalia Błaszczyk Privacy Analyst