The Saudi ICT regulator, the Communications & Information Technology Commission (”CITC”), has launched a public consultation on a proposal to regulate the Kingdom’s digital media sector, the objective of which is to create a clear and transparent regulatory framework for digital content platforms. The consultation invites interested parties to submit their comments on the draft Digital Content Platform Regulations (”Regulations”) by 30 November 2021.

If passed, the Regulations will introduce a regulatory framework for four categories of online media activity, namely:

  • Video (OTT, Satellite TV and IPTV);
  • Audio (Internet Radio);
  • Gaming (E-sports and online gaming platforms); and
  • Advertising (social media and online advertising platforms).

The Regulations propose three types of authorization mechanisms dependent on the nature of the activity: license, registration and notification. Most notably, providers of audio and video services, including SVOD and online streaming services, would be required to:

  • establish a local presence in the Kingdom;
  • pay annual fees of between 0.2% and 0.5%, calculated on a tiered basis with reference to the annual revenues generated from providing the services in the Kingdom; and
  • comply with the CITC’s General Principles for Personal Data Protection and the CITC’s Regulations on the Protection of Rights of ICT Service Users and the Terms of ICT Service Provision.

Providers of all four categories of media activity would be expressly obliged to:

  • cooperate fully with the CITC, including by allowing inspection of their systems and provision of all required documents and information to demonstrate compliance with the CITC regulations;
  • comply with the applicable law in the Kingdom, including requests to remove content (although in practice this obligation may only apply following a final ruling from the relevant authorities); and
  • comply with Saudization requirements.

If you would like any assistance in responding to the consultation on the Regulations, or on any data or technology related matters generally, please feel free to contact any of our lawyers above.

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Author

Abdulrahman AlAjlan has 16 years of litigation and commercial experience in Saudi Arabia. He represents clients at the Sharia Courts, the Board of Grievance, the SAMA Committee, Labor Committee, Committee for Negotiable Instruments and all other courts and tribunals. Abdulrahman has extensive arbitration experience, both as an arbitrator and also representing clients in arbitration proceedings.

Author

Zahi Younes has 21 years of experience in the Middle East, specializing in the areas of cross-border and domestic mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, international and domestic joint ventures, global corporate reorganizations, securities and capital markets. He also has a focus on the Telecommunications and Information Technology, Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals, and Retail and Consumer Goods sectors.

Author

Kellie Blyth is a Counsel and Head of the UAE Data and Technology practice of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, based in Dubai. An experienced technology and privacy lawyer, Kellie has been advising local and multinational clients in the technology, telecoms, financial services, insurance and automotive sectors, on their strategic IT projects, helping them develop, commercialise and implement digital and technology solutions whilst managing legal and regulatory risk.

Author

Tamim specializes in corporate transactions and actively assists Saudi-based and foreign entities in the healthcare & pharmaceuticals, IT & communications, industrials and food sectors, on corporate matters. Tamim interacts with regulators on a regular basis including the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) and the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC).

Author

Yousef joined Legal Advisors Abdulaziz Alajlan & Partners in 2020. He is actively involved in advising both Saudi Arabian and foreign clients on a wide range of corporate and commercial transactions, litigation, general matters and advisory work including M&A issues.

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