PROVISION OF REAL-TIME LAWFUL INTERCEPTION ASSISTANCE
DECREE LAW NO. (34) OF 2006
Decree Law No. (34) of 2006 on the promulgation of the Telecommunication Law (the “Telecommunication Law”) and No. (1) of 2009 on the promulgation of the Executive By-Laws for the Telecommunications Law (the “Telecoms By-Laws”) require operators of telecommunication systems used to provide telecommunication services to the public to intercept communications in real-time.
Article 59 of the Telecommunication Law states “Service Providers must comply with the requirements of the security authorities in the state which relate to the dictates of maintaining national security and the directions of the governmental bodies in general emergency cases and must implement orders and instructions issued by the General Secretariat regarding the development of network or service functionality to meet such requirements.”
Any government department interested in “State security” can rely on Article 59 of the Telecommunication Law alongside using any enforcement powers vested directly in the concerned government authority.
Article 93 of the Telecoms By-Laws states “nothing in the By-Law prohibits or infringes upon the rights of authorised governmental authorities to access confidential information or communication relating to a customer, in accordance with the applicable laws.”
Article 91 of the Telecoms By-Laws mentions that the Service Providers shall not intercept, monitor or alter the content of a customer communication, except with the customer’s explicit consent or as expressly permitted or required by the applicable laws of the State of Qatar.
Article 4 of the Telecoms By-Laws authorises the Secretary General of ictQATAR to issue regulations, decisions, rules, orders, instructions and notices for the implementation of the Telecommunications Law and the Telecoms By-Laws.
In cases involving national security and general emergency cases, the Qatari ministries and law enforcement agencies can directly approach communication service providers and require them to assist law enforcement agencies in achieving their objectives which could involve implementing a technical capability that enables direct access to their network (without the communication service providers operational control or oversight).
DISCLOSURE OF COMMUNICATIONS DATA
The powers outlined above in relation to real-time interception may also be used to order the disclosure of communications data.
NATIONAL SECURITY AND EMERGENCY POWERS
In all cases involving national security and general emergency cases, the Qatari government agencies and law enforcement agencies can directly approach communication service providers to access their customer’s communications data and/or network.
CENSORSHIP RELATED POWERS
In this section we refer to Decree Law No. (34) of 2006 on the promulgation of the Telecommunication Law (“Telecoms Law”) and No. (1) of 2009 on the promulgation of the Executive By-Laws for the Telecommunications Law (“Telecoms By-Laws”).
SHUT-DOWN OF NETWORK AND SERVICES
NATIONAL SECURITY OR PUBLIC EMERGENCY
Under Article 59 of the Telecoms Law service providers (such as Vodafone) must comply with the requirements of any government department where such requirements relate to national security or a general public emergency. It is feasible that Vodafone could be required by any of these bodies to shut-down its network or services.
Each network provider operates under a licence. Articles 3, 4 and 12 of the Telecoms Law and Article 15 of the Telecoms By-Laws provide that the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and Qatar’s Communications Regulatory Authority (the CRA) may suspend, revoke or refuse to renew a network provider’s licence where that network provider has repeatedly breached Telecoms Law or the terms of its licence, or has not paid its licence fees. However before making such a decision, the CRA should give a network provider a reasonable amount of time (such period of time to be determined by the CRA) to remedy its breach or the circumstances giving rise to the suspension, revocation or refusal to renew. Vodafone may therefore lose its licence to provide a mobile network, and related services, if Vodafone repeatedly breaches the terms of its licence.
BLOCKING OF URLS & IP ADDRESSES
Please see ‘Shut-down of network and services’. It is feasible that Vodafone could be required to block certain URLs, IP addresses and/or IP ranges by a government department pursuant to the government department’s powers under Article 59 of the Telecoms Law.
POWER TO TAKE CONTROL OF VODAFONE’S NETWORK
Please see ‘Shut-down of network and services’. It is feasible that a government department using its powers under Article 59 of the Telecoms Law could take control of Vodafone’s network.
OVERSIGHT OF THE USE OF THESE POWERS
There is no judicial oversight of the use the powers outlined.
Article 63 of the Telecommunications Law states that the employees of ictQATAR who are vested with powers of judicial seizure by a decision from the Attorney General pursuant to the agreement with the Chairman of the Board of ictQATAR shall seize and prosecute offences committed in violation of the rules of the Telecommunications Law.