New 7amleh publication entitled “Survey of Attitudes towards Privacy and Data Protection in the Palestinian Context.”
Ramallah - Haifa, 27 June 2022, 7amleh – the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media released a new survey results titled “Survey of Attitudes towards Privacy and Data Protection in the Palestinian Context” which aims to illustrate and analyse the level of awareness and understanding among Palestinian society in the occupied Palestinian territory regarding a number of aspects relating to the right to privacy and data protection and how it is approached in the local context.
This survey examines the extent to which participants are aware of and understand issues of privacy and data protection and their real life experiences in this regard. As it sheds light on their general background on this topic, their knowledge of the Palestinian Authority’s policies regarding privacy and data protection, oversight, and accountability in cases of breach, as well as their knowledge of how the private sector handles the privacy and data of citizens, and how much it is committed to respecitng and protecting them.
The survey analyzes the attitudes of a sample of 509 Palestinians from various governorates in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The sample included various age groups, with a minimum age of 18 years, from different educational and professional backgrounds. The survey relied on its assessment of awareness and attitudes on the following criteria; the concept of privacy; participation in awareness programs about the right to privacy; the Palestinian Authority’s approach to the right to privacy; official policies, oversight, and accountability in case of privacy breaches; telecommunications companies and their policies regarding personal data; and privacy standards on social media platforms.
The survey findings revealed important indicators, pointing to deficiencies in certain aspects, and the necessity tocall for review and analysis regarding the right to privacy in the occupied Palestinian territories. Namely, 52% of the participants believe that their privacy and personal data lacks protection, while 32% of the participants expressed that their privacy had previously been breached or their personal data used without their knowledge or consent. Furthermore, about 69% of respondents supported a Palestinian legislation to protect privacy and personal data, including electronic data.
In terms of perpetrators, nearly a third of the participants reported that the Palestinian Authority or one of its bodies hacked their personal data, while about half of the participants believed that Palestinian telecom service providers accessed and used their personal data without their knowledge or consent.
This survey demonstrates an urgent need for comprehensive privacy and data protection Palestinian legislation, in line with international law principles and human rights standards, which can protect all citizens and ensure accountability per the princple of the rule of law, including over the official, civil and private sectors. It further reveals the need to oblige private companies, especially telecom service providers, to develop binding privacy policies, for all their parties, and in both their internal and external affairs, that guarantee the implementation of laws and human rights standards related to privacy. There is also a need to form a Palestinian body to protect privacy, regulate the handling of personal data, and monitor violations, linked to a clear and binding mechanism to ensure accountability in accordance with the law. It is also important to adopt "raising human rights awareness" as an official Palestinian policy, and to set a clear and comprehensive plan for its implementation. This includes raising awareness of the concept and content of the right to privacy, what personal data includes, and why we need to protect it.
In the same context, last week we issued an investigative report titled “Privacy and Personal Data Protection in Palestine: Double Violations and Absent Legislation” which sheds light on the issue of privacy and data protection in Palestine. The report examines the extent to which Palestinians’ privacy is respected and personal data protected, by the Palestinian Authority and telecommunications companies, internet providers, and digital payment companies, in the occupied Palestinian territory. It further investigates the relationship between private companies and Palestinian governmental bodies, and attempts to highlight how exposed Palestinians are, electronically and digitally, to the Israeli Authorities.
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