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Data leak punishable offence under law


Muscat, Jan 15 - Breach of confidentiality, particularly with regard to closely-held company information and trade secrets, can be a punishable offence under Omani law, according to Oman’s Public Prosecution.
In precautionary advice to the general public — part of the Public Prosecution awareness building efforts — officials urged company employees to be vigilant and diligent in their handling of data and information deemed by their employers as company secrets. Employees have an obligation to protect any such confidential data and are barred from sharing such information without approval, they warned.
According to the officials, confidentiality agreements signed by employees are legally binding contracts in which one party promises to keep trade secrets and not disclose them without authorization from a superior.
Article (201) of the Penal Code states thus: “Anyone who intentionally discloses job secrets shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not less three months and a fine of RO 1,000, even if the offence is committed after retirement or at the end of service.”
Significantly, the Penal Code also enjoins an employee who may have come upon documents that indication evidence of corruption or criminal abuse by another employee, to bring the purported crime to the attention of the competent authorities. Failure to report the crime, or any inordinate delay thereof, may result in the employee being found guilty under Article 196 of the Penal Code. The offence is punishable with imprisonment for a period of one year, and a fine of RO 300.
“The proper legal procedure is therefore to inform the competent authorities represented by the State Financial and Administrative Audit Institution, or the nearest Department of Public Prosecution Services,” officials at the Public Prosecution noted.
Commenting on action to be taken by the public on the discovery of forgeries and such other suspected crimes, the Public Prosecution said: “As a general principle, if the forgery is in official documents, it is categorised as a felony where criminal action may be brought against the offender within 10 years of the commission of the crime; but if the forgery concerns private documents, the crime is categorised as a misdemeanour and action may be brought against the culprit within three years of its commission. There is no use reporting these crimes if the relevant statute of limitations has passed.”



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