The Communiqué on Safety Stamp and Notification Obligation in E-Commerce ("Communiqué") has been published in the Official Gazette on 6 June 2017. The Communiqué entered into force on the same date.

The Communiqué aims to establish the procedures and principles relating to the safety stamp to be used in e-commerce activities and provides certain provisions regarding the safety and service quality standards to be applied to intermediary service providers and to service providers who are willing to obtain (and interested in acquiring) the safety stamp. The Communiqué sets out the application and cancellation procedures, the conditions that must be satisfied to obtain the safety stamp, as well as the duties and obligations of the safety stamp providers.

The Communiqué has been enacted on the basis of Article 11 of the Law on the Regulation of Electronic Commerce ("Law") and Article 16 of the Regulation on Service Providers and Intermediary Service Providers in Electronic Commerce ("Regulation"). Accordingly, the terms defined in the Communiqué are consistent with the terms defined both in the Law and the Regulation. The Communiqué also introduces new terms specifically for the purposes of this Communiqué, such as "secure socket layer," "safety stamp," and "safety stamp providers."

According to the Communiqué, "safety stamp" describes an electronic mark to be provided to service providers and intermediary service providers who comply with the minimum requirements regarding the standards of safety and service quality. It should be noted that acquiring this safety stamp is entirely optional. Therefore, the requirements and obligations set forth in the Communiqué only apply to those service providers who are willing to fulfill its requirements in order to obtain the safety stamp certifying their safety and security, and the safety stamp providers who will be authorized to issue this safety stamp.

Article 5 of the Communiqué enumerates the minimum requirements for obtaining the safety stamp. Article 5 stipulates that any transaction that involves personal data and payment information should be carried out with the home secure sockets layer ("SSL") on the desktop or mobile website, and with SSL in the mobile application. Service providers who wish to obtain a safety stamp should also plan and set up their processes in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations, and should also implement the appropriate measures to deal with and manage content that can negatively affect children's physical, mental, moral, psychological and social development characteristics. In addition, service providers should offer or provide their customers with the opportunity to receive information about their orders, such as the stock, content, usage, warranty (if any), technical support, cargo, delivery time, and the details of who will provide these services, along with visual content that makes it possible for customers to understand these matters. Service providers should also offer or provide information with respect to who will provide the service, as well as the scope and duration of the service subject to e-commerce. According to the same provision, in order for the customer to obtain information or to submit a complaint about their orders, service providers should provide contact information. Finally, if the service providers wish to obtain the safety stamp, they should not have been convicted of a crime specified in Article 5 of the Communiqué.

Applications for the safety stamp should be submitted directly to the safety stamp providers by the service providers and the intermediary service providers. The required documents should be submitted according to Article 5 of the Communiqué, as explained above. Following the submission of an application, a report will be prepared by the safety stamp provider to determine whether the service provider is complying with the conditions set out in the Communiqué. If the applicant has fulfilled the conditions set forth in the Communiqué and the report is favorable to the applicant, then the application will be approved and the safety stamp will be provided. If not, the applicant will be granted a period of thirty days to fulfill the missing conditions (i.e., the conditions that it has failed to satisfy).

Once granted, the safety stamp should be displayed on the main page of the service provider or the intermediary service provider's electronic commerce environment, according to Article 6 of the Communiqué. Safety stamps can also be displayed or put on pages other than the home page.

Article 9 of the Communiqué governs, regulates, and delineates the scope of the authority of the safety stamp providers, such as the authority to determine whether or not the service providers are complying with the conditions set out under the Communiqué, to audit the service providers following a complaint, and, at least once a year, to take the necessary measures to prevent the misapplication or misappropriation of the safety stamp and to notify the relevant authorities and the Ministry of Customs and Trade ("Ministry") of matters uncovered during their inspections which may require judicial or administrative sanctions.

The obligations of safety stamp providers are set forth and regulated under Article 10 of the Communiqué. According to Article 10, safety stamp providers are required to carry out the suspension or cancellation of the safety stamp when necessary, to audit the service providers and intermediary service providers, and to prepare the activity reports to be submitted to the Ministry. Safety stamp providers should submit an annual report to the Ministry (by the end of March each year), and this report should include the material set forth and described in the Communiqué.

This Communiqué is expected to amplify e- commerce transactions and foster the development of e-commerce activities in Turkey by establishing a safe and secure e- commerce environment, while also aiming to provide a swift and cost-efficient dispute resolution mechanism with respect to e- commerce transactions.

This article was first published in Legal Insights Quarterly by ELIG, Attorneys-at-Law in September 2017. A link to the full Legal Insight Quarterly may be found here

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