The Prime Ministry submitted a revised Draft Data Protection Bill (“Draft Bill”) to the Grand National General Assembly of Turkey, dated 18 January 2016. Earlier draft legislation on this topic had been submitted in 2014, but the recent Draft Bill contains a number of significant changes compared to the earlier document. The Draft Bill expands definitions of “explicit consent” and “sensitive data”, as well as makes changes to the proposed structure and appointment methods for the Data Protection Authority (“Authority”). The Draft Bill’s provisions relating to data transfers and appointment of data protection officers are generally similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

The 2016 Action Plan of the 64th Government (dated 10 December 2015) specifically states that data protection legislation is aimed to be enacted by March 2016.

Significant provisions proposed under the Draft Bill include:

  • The scope of sensitive data is extended to include criminal records, security measures, biometric information and clothing (for example, religious attire).
  • Treatment of “state secret” is regulated for the first time in a different manner, without providing a clear definition of the term, which has also no reference or place in the respective EU legislation,
  • The definition of “data protection officer” is clarified by including relevant responsibility to determine processing methods and purposes of personal data.
  • Principles are outlined for transmission of personal data abroad. Similar to the previous draft bill, transmission of personal data to foreign countries will be allowed if such country provides a sufficient level of security for personal data. Transmission of personal data will be allowed even if a country does not meet the necessary security levels, provided the data protection officers in such country undertake to provide in writing to provide a sufficient level of security and the Authority grants permission.
  • Exclusions from personal data protection have been widened. The Draft Bill excludes processing personal data for the purposes of art, history, literature and science, or within the scope of free speech. These acts would not be subject to the Draft Bill’s provisions.

The Draft Bill includes structural changes to the Authority, proposing that out of seven board members, four would be appointed by the Council of Ministers and three would be directly appointed by the President of the Republic of Turkey.

Please see this link for full text of the Draft Bill (only available in Turkish).

Information first published in the MA | Gazette, a fortnightly legal update newsletter produced by Moroğlu Arseven.