A recent mobile phone I was given for a review turned out to be a faulty device. While the company immediately sent me a replacement, I did lose some precious photographs and videos taken during the one week that I used the phone.
Thankfully, I had no other important information stored on the device.
But what happens if you actually lose valuable data that was stored on a faulty device? Are you eligible to sue the phone-maker or take any legal action against the company in the UAE?
Not really, says Hamza Saleem, senior research analyst, Mobile Devices at IDC MEA.
“The main issue is the legal accountability for the manufacturers on lost data,” he explained.
“Even when the device has a manufacturing defect out of the box, in most cases the disclaimer that comes with the literature in the box clearly mentions that data loss is not covered under warranty, and that only the hardware is protected.”
Paul Allen, partner and head of the Middle East Intellectual Property and Technology Practice Group at law firm DLA Piper agreed.
“Owners of faulty mobile handsets and other products will be protected to some degree in the UAE by the Consumer Code of Rights issued under Federal Law in 2006, as well as by any relevant contract in place with the manufacturer or equipment supplier,” he said.
“The situation with regards to any loss of data is less clear, as no existing laws expressly protect consumers in this situation. Any remedies consumers have may lie in the contracts with their equipment supplier or service providers.”
The only option is for customers to take regular back-ups of all the information on the phone.
“On a corporate device the data is always backed-up and even if you lose the data it can be recovered easily from the server. But when it comes to the consumer market, people need to be a bit more careful, as lost data cannot be replaced if no back-up is done,” said Saleem.
Allen offers the same advise: “While the shifting landscape of mobile technology and the laws that surround it are continuously developing, regionally as well as globally, we would recommend any user of mobile handsets and other technologies holding important data to ensure that they are effectively backed-up in order to minimise risk.”
But it’s not just a problem in the UAE; there have been no claims on a mobile device manufacturer for loss of data across the world, and there are no legal provisions to take these issues to court, stated Saleem.
“To be frank, I think these regulations will never come into existence as most of the vendors have cloud services free of cost to save the data safely. But if the cloud service goes bust then the vendor is liable for loss claims,” he added.