Parliament’s transportation, economic affairs, national security, and communication committees all approved the bill presented by the cabinet on Thursday to regulate ride-hailing smartphone applications, which targets, mainly, companies such as Uber and Careem. Yet, three articles hindered the final approval.
This came after a meeting that lasted for five hours at the Egyptian Parliament’s headquarters with the participation of Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, as well as representatives of Uber and Careem, along with representatives of Cairo’s white taxis.
The three controversial articles included specific controls for operating fees and work permits, as well as what the government called “linking data” of clients with the concerned government agencies to protect national security without the need for a court order. This raised the concern of both representatives of Uber and Careem, as well as several MPs that attended the meeting.
The bill obligates companies working in the field to share their clients’ data with bodies designated by the minister of communications. It also requires the electronic servers of the companies’ databases to be within the Egyptian borders.
MP and head of parliament’s communication committee, Nidal al-Said, as well as MP Mohamed Badrawy objected to the text of the articles.
During a meeting on Saturday, the policy director at Uber, Rana Kortam, expressed her objection to the data sharing, and called for amending the proposed articles to include the presence of a court order for data sharing. She said that without a court order, this would mean a violation to privacy of clients, which contradicts the Egyptian constitution.
The executive director of Careem, Ramy Kato, said his company understands the requirements of national security, but at the same time, Careem wishes to protect the data of its clients. MP Mohamed Badawy said that if a security agency submitted a request to obtain data, no companies would hide it. “But sharing and linking data is against the constitution and threatens private life,” he added.
Meanwhile, Investment Minister Sahar Nasr said that there is an agreement to make the Ministry of Transport responsible for following up the implementation of this law, in coordination with the Ministries of Interior and Communications. During the meeting, Nasr pointed out the opening of a community dialogue on the law.