A new law governing the use of surveillance cameras in the Kingdom has been approved by the Council of Ministers, headed by King Salman. Pursuant to Royal Decree No: 164 dated 01/03/1444 H., Saudi Arabia has mandated the installation, operation, and maintenance of surveillance camera systems for a wide range of public and private entities.
Locations where the installation and use of cameras will be mandatory and where their use is prohibited are outlined in the new legislation as published in the official gazette on 7 October, 2022, which also stipulates fines and penalties for violators.
The Surveillance Camera System Law (The Law) will become effective in the first week of April, 2023, providing impacted establishments with six months to prepare for and comply with the new regulation.
Who is Impacted by the Surveillance Camera System Law?
The Law will apply to all ministries and governmental agencies, oil and gas installations, power generation and water desalination plants, tourist accommodations (hotels, furnished apartments, etc.), commercial complexes and centers, financial institutions, residential complexes, mosques, medical care facilities, warehouses, streets, roads, and highways, restaurants and cafes, events and exhibitions, and public and private museums, among others.
The Law requires that camera systems must be functional at all times and that recordings must be saved and maintained for periods as stipulated in term sheets to be issued at a later date. In the event of an incident, entities with footage of interest will be notified to maintain the specific recording until the completion of an investigation and clearance by authorities.
Issuance and renewal of operating licenses or commercial registrations will require full compliance with the new Surveillance Camera System Law. Furthermore, all entities impacted by The Law will be required to place sign boards at conspicuous locations to alert the public of the presence of surveillance cameras.
Exceptions to the Surveillance Camera System Law
The Law prohibits the installation of surveillance cameras inside medical test and medical procedure rooms, changing rooms, washrooms, rooms in hotels and living accommodations for tourists, and lounges for women. The Law also prohibits circulation and copying of the recordings unless approved by the Ministry of Interior for a specific purpose or to comply with a judicial order.
Penalties for Violating the Surveillance Camera System Law
The Minister of Interior will constitute a committee comprised of three or more people for each province to review violations against The Law and determine punishments and fines. The Law prescribes fines starting from SR.500.00 for installing a camera not complying with the set specifications to SR. 20,000.00 for circulating or copying any recording. The penalty for installing a camera in any prohibited place is fixed at SR.10,000.00. The fines will be without prejudice to other penalties and punishments prescribed under other laws and regulations.
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