Have you ever recorded someone’s voice in Qatar or even thought about doing it with the consent of the other person or even without it? Have you ever thought if it’s even legal to do so, especially in Qatar?
If you’ve answered yes to even one of the above questions, then we think you need to read this feature and learn whether it’s legal to record someone’s voice with or without their consent, especially in today’s world where the kind of technology and social media types we have make it all the more easier to record someone’s voice maybe for proof during an argument, just for your own personal record, or for a multitude of other reasons.
Read on to know whether it’s permissible or illegal to record someone’s voice or not.
We were able to hold an exclusive interview with Dr. Nasser M. Al Omani Al Adba, the chairman and principal lawyer of Omani and Partners – a well-known Qatari law firm that deals with criminal law, corporate law, property and litigation requirements of businesses based in Qatar, to serve the needs of enterprises in the domestic and international arenas of banking, finance and commerce – and get his expert advice on the law pertaining to recording someone voice for personal or commercial reasons and whether it was legal/illegal to do so.
Dr. Nasser has a PhD in Investment Law and is a Member of the Committee of Experts of the World Trade Organisation. He told us that it is illegal to record someone’s voice for any reason and is an offence that is punishable by the law.
Is it illegal to record someone’s voice in Qatar?
Dr. Nasser: Yes, recording someone’s voice is illegal in Qatar. The reason Qatar has made it illegal to record another person’s voice whether they are a co-worker, spouse, business associate, friend, relative or anyone for that matter, is because when you record someone’s voice, it is usually with the intention of misusing it or to prove something. The recording can be used for blackmail, extortion, embezzlement or bribery, etc., and may lead to more criminal acts when disclosed to others.
The Law Gazette No.4 of 2017 in Qatar prohibits the recording of someone’s voice because it may be taken out of context, or edited to distort facts, thereby, threatening the lives of others in the community and society at large.
The roots of this Law No. 4 lie in the teachings of Islam, which say that it is not permissible to do ‘namima’ (backbiting), forward information that someone has told you in confidentiality or if someone said something to you about some person, you forward it to that person. All these things are prohibited in Islam to protect people and communities because of the consequences.
Recording someone’s voice work in the same way, and the consequences can be dire.
What is the punishment for recording someone’s voice?
Dr. Nasser: Recording someone’s voice, especially, without their consent, is a punishable offence in Qatar. Anyone found guilty of recording another person’s voice, for whatever the reason, will be charged with a felony. The punishment for this felony is two years in jail or a fine of QR 10,000, and in some severe cases – both!
Can a voice recording be used as evidence in a court of law in Qatar?
Dr. Nasser: No. A voice recording of any person cannot be used in a court, no matter how beneficial its contents may be to the case. Recording someone’s voice is illegal in Qatar. Period.
What about banks, hospitals, and other institutions that mention, when you call, that they will record your voice for quality and training purposes?
Dr Nasser: Hospitals and Banks are recording for training and quality assurance purposes only, so it is up to the caller whether they accept that or not. They can either continue the call or disconnect.
What is the Law Gazette No. 4 of 2017?
Under the previous Article 333 of the Penal Code, individuals were only protected in terms of their private conversations in person or on the telephone.
“Anyone who violates the private life of individuals without their consent, other than in cases authorized by law, shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of not exceeding two years and by a fine not exceeding QAR 10,000”.
The following acts constitute a violation of the private life of an individual:
- The opening of letters or private telegrams addressed to other individuals.
- The recording of telephone calls.
- The recording or transferring of conversations held in a private place using any kind of device.
- The capturing or transferring of pictures or videos of an individual or individuals in a private place using any kind of device.
This has been amended in the Law Gazette No.4 of 2017 published on 30 March 2017 to cover the recording of conversations and the taking and transmitting of pictures of individuals injured or deceased in public places.
The new amendment imposes the same penalty stipulated in the Article 333 of the Penal Code to the following situations with regard to an individual:
- The taking or transferring of pictures or videos of another individual or individuals in a public place, using any kind of device, for defamation purposes.
- The taking or transferring of pictures or videos of individuals injured or deceased or involved in accidents, using any kind of device, other than that authorised by law.
After the amendment and the publication of the Law Gazette No. 4 of 2017, the privacy of individuals in public places and in private are now protected and fully covered.
Qatar safeguards its people and protects their privacy
Qatar is a country that cares about its people and their welfare, and that is why it continuously strives towards ensuring the people that live in this peaceful country are protected in whatever way possible.
That is why, in 2017, Article 333 of the Penal Code was amended to the Law Gazette No. 4 of 2017 to further protect the privacy and the rights of the people who live in Qatar whether they are locals or expats, and to ensure that social media is used in a responsible manner and people’s lives are safe.
About Omani and Partners
Omani and Partners, is one of Qatar’s top litigation law firms and advises individuals and the industry on all related issues of licensing, internet safety and data protection of often commercially sensitive and personal information, developing insightful solutions to preserve business safety, brand reputation and legal liability. Astute and informed advice from our lawyers in Qatar allows companies to assess risk in data transfer and sharing as well as preserving confidentiality.
For more information on Omani and Partners, please check the below given contact details:
Location: Building 73, Zone 31, Street 915, Al Khafji Street, P.O. Box 32/142, Duhail, Doha – Qatar
Tel: +974 40293059
Timings: 9 am – 5 pm