data protection in turkey

DATA PROTECTION IN TURKEY: REGULATIONS AND COMPLIANCE

In today’s world where digital technology has become a ubiquitous force in our lives, the data protection in Turkey has gained significant importance. Turkey, like many other countries, strives to balance the challenges of protecting personal data with promoting innovation and economic growth.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates the process of protecting personal data and privacy, and it became effective in the European Union (EU) in May 2018. The regulation is applicable to all companies processing the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of their location. GDPR aims to protect the privacy of EU citizens and provide them with greater professional control over their personal data.

Although Turkey is not a member of the EU, it has its own data protection law, the Personal Data Protection Law (KVKK), which came into effect on April 7, 2016. KVKK is very similar to GDPR and is based on the EU’s Data Protection Directive. According to KVKK, personal data can only be processed with the explicit consent of the data subject, if it is necessary to fulfill a contract, or if there is a legitimate interest to process it. The law is applicable to all data controllers and processors that are established in Turkey or process personal data in Turkey.

Protection of Personal Data Law Article 4 – (1) Personal data can only be processed in accordance with the procedures and principles set forth in this Law and other laws. The following principles must be adhered to in the processing of personal data:

  • Compliance with the law and honesty principles.
  • Being accurate and up-to-date when necessary.
  • Being processed for specific, explicit, and legitimate purposes.
  • Being relevant, limited, and proportionate to the purpose for which they are processed.
  • Being retained for the period stipulated by the relevant legislation or for the period necessary for the purpose for which they are processed.

WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES OF PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION IN TURKEY?

Personal data is defined as any identified or identifiable information relating to a real person. It includes all data, including sensitive personal data such as biometric data, health information, and religious or political beliefs. The law sets out data processing principles such as purpose limitation, data minimization, accuracy, storage limitation, privacy, and personal data security.

The principles of personal data protection in Turkey and confidentiality are fundamental principles that must be followed, particularly with regard to the processing and use of personal data. The following principles are based on general data protection regulations and privacy standards accepted worldwide and GDPR in Turkey:

  • Principle of lawfulness and fairness: Personal data processing must be done in compliance with a legal basis and the principle of fairness.
  • Principle of purpose limitation: Personal data must be collected and used for specific, clear, and legitimate purposes. Collected data should not be used for purposes other than those intended.
  • Principle of data minimization: Personal data must be collected and processed in a necessary and sufficient manner. It is important that the processed data is limited, and unnecessary data is not collected.
  • Principle of accuracy: Personal data must be accurate and up-to-date. False, incomplete, or misleading data should not be used.
  • Principle of storage limitation: Personal data must be stored for the necessary period. Once the period has expired, the data must be deleted or anonymized.
  • Principle of confidentiality: Data protection in Turkey must be ensured for the protection and confidentiality of personal data. Data must be protected from unauthorized access, loss, theft, damage, destruction, or alteration.
  • Principle of data responsibility: The data controller must be responsible and accountable for the processing and protection of personal data.

These principles provide guidance on the processing and data privacy in Turkey and are important for applying appropriate privacy practices.

gdpr in turkey

DATA PROTECTION PROCESS AND DATA PRIVACY IN TURKEY

There are a few things you need to be aware of in order to protect your personal data in Turkey. First of all, you need to be aware of your rights under the KVKK (Personal Data Protection Law) as known as GDPR in Turkey. These rights include the right to access your personal data, the right to request the correction of incorrect data, the right to object to the processing of your data, and the right to request the deletion of your data.

Additionally, you should ensure that any company processing your personal data is KVKK compliant and implements appropriate security measures to protect your data.

You can follow the steps below to protect your personal data:

  • Share your personal data only for specific purposes: Share your personal data only for specific purposes and allow them to be processed. Take measures to prevent your data from being used for other purposes.
  • Safely store your personal data: For data protection in Turkey safely store your personal data. Take appropriate security measures to protect your data from unauthorized access, loss, theft, damage, destruction, or alteration.
  • Check the compliance of processing institutions: Check the compliance of institutions authorized to process your personal data. Work with institutions that ensure the processing of your data in compliance with GDPR in Turkey rules and ensure their security.
  • Learn your rights as data owners: KVKK protects certain rights of data owners. Keep your personal data under control and request deletion or correction if necessary by using these rights.
  • Follow a KVKK compliant policy: Follow a GDPR in Turkey compliant policy to protect your personal data. Train your employees on the operation of this policy and perform necessary controls.

By following these steps, you can protect your personal data and control the processing process of data protection in Turkey in compliance with data protection and data privacy in Turkey regulations.

VIOLATION OF PERSONAL DATA PRIVACY

Personal data protection in Turkey can be violated in many situations. For example, a company may be in violation of the KVKK if it collects personal data without the consent of the data subject or fails to implement appropriate security measures to protect the data. Other types of violations include sharing personal data with third parties without consent, failure to respond to a data subject’s access or deletion requests, and excessive retention of personal data.

Personal data protection and privacy can be violated in many different situations. Some examples include:

  • Data breaches: Personal data being acquired or disclosed through unauthorized access, alteration, or destruction.
  • Fraudulent activity: Personal data being obtained through deceptive or fraudulent activity, such as scams or phishing.
  • Misuse of data for processing purposes: Personal data being used for purposes other than those for which it was collected, even if consent was obtained for the original purpose.
  • Data security vulnerabilities: Insufficient systems or methods used for processing and storing personal data, or existence of data security vulnerabilities.
  • Data loss: Accidental deletion, destruction, or loss of personal data.
  • Lack of information and consent: Processing of personal data without adequate information provided about how it is collected, processed, and used or without obtaining consent from the data subject.

In such cases, personal data protection in Turkey and data privacy in Turkey can be compromised and legal sanctions may be required. Therefore, it is important to be careful when processing and protecting personal data under GDPR in Turkey.

LEGAL PROCESS FOR UNAUTHORIZED SHARING OF PERSONAL DATA

When personal data is shared without the consent of the data owner, the affected individual can file a complaint with the Personal Data Protection Authority (KVKK) in Turkey. The Authority has the power to investigate and penalize companies that act in violation of the KVKK regulations. Depending on the severity of the violation, companies can be fined, ordered to stop processing personal data, or even face criminal sanctions. Data owners can also file a compensation claim against companies that violate GDPR in Turkey regulations, seeking compensation for any damages caused by the violation.

In the case of unauthorized sharing of personal data, the legal process works as follows:

  • Complaint: If a data owner realizes that their personal data has been shared without consent, they should first file a complaint. The complaint can be made in writing to the data controller or to the KVKK institution or other authorized bodies.
  • Investigation: Upon receiving the complaint, the data controller will start an investigation if they acknowledge that the personal data has been shared without consent. The investigation is conducted by KVKK institutions or other authorized bodies.
  • Sanction: If the investigation finds that the unauthorized sharing of data has indeed taken place, sanctions can be imposed. These sanctions may include fines, temporary or permanent suspension of the data controller’s activities, revocation of the data controller’s authorization certificate, and other legal sanctions under GDPR in Turkey.
  • Compensation: If the data owner has suffered damages as a result of the unauthorized sharing of personal data, they can seek compensation. This compensation can be sought from the data controller or from other liable parties determined by court order.

In conclusion, the unauthorized sharing of personal data is a serious violation that is addressed through legal processes. Data controllers must process data in accordance with the KVKK requirements and must not share data without the consent of data owners. Otherwise, they may face legal sanctions.

COMPANY OBLIGATIONS UNDER GDPR TO DATA PROTECTION IN TURKEY

The Personal Data Protection Law imposes significant responsibilities on companies processing personal data in Turkey. This includes all businesses, from small start-ups to large multinational companies. The most important company obligations under GDPR is companies must take technical and organizational measures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility of personal data, including appropriate encryption and access controls for data protection in Turkey.

In Turkey, the other important company obligations under GDPR is companies are required to implement a data privacy policy in accordance with the Personal Data Protection Law. The law imposes significant obligations on data controllers and processors, including obtaining explicit consent from individuals for the processing of personal data, ensuring the accuracy and security of personal data, and informing individuals about the purposes and methods of data processing.

You can refer to our Corporate Law page for detailed information on companies’ obligations and related applications.

Below are the responsibilities and company obligations under GDPR:

  • Obligation to inform:

Companies must inform data owners in a clear and understandable manner about the collection, processing, and use of personal data privacy in Turkey. Companies must provide individuals with detailed information about their processing activities, including the purposes, types of data processed, and individuals or institutions with whom data is shared. This information must be provided in a clear and concise manner and must be easily accessible.

  • Consent obligation:

Companies must obtain explicit consent from data owners for the collection, processing, and use of personal data.

  • Obligation to ensure data security:

Companies must implement technical and organizational measures, including appropriate encryption and access controls, to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility of personal data.

  • Data controller obligation:

As responsible individuals or organizations for the processing of personal data, companies must fulfill their data controller obligations.

  • Rights of data owners:

Companies must take appropriate measures to protect the rights of data owners under the GDPR in Turkey. These rights include the right to delete personal data, correct incomplete data, stop data processing activities, and transfer personal data.

  • Data processing agreements:

Companies must include provisions that comply with the requirements of the Personal Data Protection Law in the contracts they sign with other individuals or organizations that provide data processing services.

  • Obligation to report data breaches:

Companies have an obligation to notify data owners and the Personal Data Protection Institution in the event of unauthorized access, alteration, or destruction of personal data.

The Personal Data Protection Law imposes significant obligations on data controllers and processors and requires obtaining explicit consent from individuals for the processing of personal data, ensuring the accuracy and security of personal data, and informing individuals about the purposes and methods of data processing.

data privacy in turkey

CREATING A PRIVACY POLICY AND APPOINTING A DATA CONTROLLER

Companies are required to appoint a data controller who is responsible for ensuring compliance with privacy regulations and managing data breaches. In addition to appointing a data controller, companies must also create a data register system that records all personal data processing activities. This register must be regularly updated and made available upon request by the relevant authorities.

The Turkish Personal Data Protection Law (KVKK) regularly audits companies’ privacy policies and can impose administrative fines and other penalties for non-compliance. Therefore, companies in Turkey must take the protection and confidentiality of personal data seriously and implement robust policies and procedures to protect personal data.

Creating a policy to protect data and appointing a data controller ensures that companies comply with KVKK requirements for safeguarding personal data and privacy. The following steps can be taken in this process:

  • Identification of personal data: Companies must identify the personal data they process and determine the purpose for which it is processed.
  • Determination of data processing purposes: Companies must identify the purposes for which personal data is processed and limit data processing activities accordingly.
  • Identification of data subject rights: Companies must identify the rights of data subjects under the KVKK and act in accordance with these rights.
  • Implementation of data security measures: Companies must take appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure the security of personal data.
  • Creation of a policy to protect data: Companies must create a data protection policy that complies with KVKK requirements for protecting and safeguarding personal data. This policy should specify how personal data will be processed, who it will be shared with, and how it will be protected.
  • Appointment of a data controller: Companies must appoint a data controller to fulfill their obligations under the KVKK. The data controller is the person or organization responsible for processing personal data and is responsible for complying with KVKK obligations.
  • Staff training: Companies must train their employees on KVKK obligations and increase their awareness of data protection.

These steps are important for companies to fulfill their obligations under the GDPR in Turkey. In addition, seeking appropriate consultancy services during this process may be beneficial.

PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION OF DATA PRIVACY

According to the Personal Data Protection Law (KVKK), a violation of data privacy refers to the unlawful processing, destruction, alteration, or unauthorized disclosure of personal data. Data privacy violations can result in administrative and legal sanctions against the data controller, data processors, or those acting on behalf of data processors, as provided for under the KVKK.

Penalties for violations of data privacy under the KVKK may include the obligation of the data controller or data processor to compensate for any damages resulting from the violation, administrative fines, imprisonment, or both. In addition, data breaches may also be subject to lawsuits for compensation for damages caused by the unlawful processing of personal data.

Under the relevant provisions of the KVKK, data controllers or data processors are required to take the necessary technical and administrative measures to ensure the security of personal data of the relevant individuals. Failure to do so may result in liability for damages resulting from data breaches.

Under the KVKK, a data controller or data processor who unlawfully processes personal data or fails to ensure data security may be subject to the following administrative fines:

  • The data controller may be fined between 50,000 TL and 1,000,000 TL.
  • The data processor may be fined between 20,000 TL and 500,000 TL.

In addition to these fines, a data controller or data processor may also face imprisonment. For example, a data controller or data processor who processes personal data unlawfully or obtains personal data without authorization may face imprisonment for two to five years.

In conclusion, the protection and privacy of personal data are important issues in Turkey. The Personal Data Protection Law provides a comprehensive legal framework for the protection of personal data. However, there are still significant challenges in the effective implementation of the law, and greater awareness and education are needed to ensure compliance with its provisions. Additionally, a balance must be struck between ensuring adequate protection of personal data and promoting national security and economic development without hindering progress.

You can review our other practice areas here and contact info@cbhukuk.com for your legal support request.

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