Google, Microsoft: No law in Egypt on storing user data

Microsoft and Google both say Egypt has no legislation obliging social networks and internet search engines to delete users’ data within a certain time period, as is the standard in EU states.

Wael Fakharany, manager of Google Egypt, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that his company holds data for some of its users for 18 months, and has yet to cut the time limit down to eight months. Fakharany said the relevant authorities in Egypt have not imposed any specific criteria on the company, which prompted Google Egypt to instead follow international standards.

The European Union warned Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft yesterday about continuing violations concerning European user information. EU law requires search engines to delete data every six months, yet the three providers keep information beyond this time period.

Microsoft stressed its commitment to abiding by domestic law, but said it has not received any communication from the Egyptian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology concerning customers’ data or the period during which such information may be retained. An official source at Microsoft said its share in the European market is less than that of Google, while Google, along with Yahoo, are the least heedful of privacy restrictions.

The same source said some states require Google to adopt different measures than those applied in EU countries and the US, and any such demands must be discussed to decide on their feasibility.

A source at the telecommunications ministry said the ministry has no authority to compel companies to follow certain privacy policies, but in some cases it might ask for the preservation of some user data, for example data on criminal suspects or persons against whom a legal action has been brought. Retention of such data is according to international agreements concerning privacy, the source said, and the telecommunications ministry applies such measures to mobile service providers, while internet companies have different policies.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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