Turkey: Protection Of Privacy In Media Law

Last Updated: 10 April 2013
Article by Eda Yikilmaz and Ece Zerey

Media law has been evolving especially since 1990s following the establishment of private broadcasting organisations in Turkey. The Law on Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and Media Services was enacted in 1994. This Law stipulated the Supreme Board of Audio Visual Services ("RTUK") as a supervising institution, which grants broadcasting licenses, allocates frequency bands and implements the broadcasting principles in the media sector. In 2011, that Law was renewed in light of new technological developments and new forms of media communication ("The New Media Law"). The New Media Law is aligned with the EU Legislation on broadcasting principles of media law. Though, like elsewhere, one issue is always open to hot debates: "Protection of Privacy".

Protection of privacy, which is one of the most important fundamental rights and freedoms stipulated in Turkish Constitution, becomes more important in the area of media law due to new technological developments, which facilitate its violation. The New Media Law stipulates the protection of privacy under Article 8 and prohibits broadcasts that violate the respect to human dignity and privacy. In fact, the protection of privacy can be violated through a number of ways such as live broadcast, camera pranks or secret recording in the media sector. As there is no specific definition of privacy in the Law, the decisions of RTUK and the jurisprudence of the Court of Appeal would shed a light for interpretation.

In media and press law, the basic principle is the freedom of press based on the freedom of opinion and expression. However, fundamental rights such as freedom of press and protection of privacy could conflict in the process of gathering news, followed by its publication and broadcast. For instance, we observe the use of secret camera recordings by journalists especially in gathering news relating to specific crimes such as human trafficking and drug trafficking, which concern public order. In fact, recording individuals' communication without their consent is stipulated as a criminal offence in the Article 132 of the Turkish Criminal Code Nevertheless, both RTUK, Court of Appeal and the Council of State seem to be more tolerant in such cases provided that it is in the interest of the public and there are no other legal ways to determine the truth. In other words, public interest should override the right to privacy in some cases in order to protect public order. If the issue does not related to public interest, national security, public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country, the prevention of disorder or crime, the protection of health or morals, RTUK interprets and accepts the secret camera recording as a sensational aim to unjust compete with other journalists, which creates a violation of broadcasting principles. The aim of the using secret camera to gather a new is very significant during the evaluation of the news or programs by RTUK, Court of Appeal and Council of State. These authorities also take into consideration the interference corresponds to a 'social need' and that it is 'proportionate to the legitimate aim being pursued' during their evolutions.

As mentioned above, there is no exact definition of privacy or private life in the Law, however, RTUK and Court of Appeal defines the private life as follows: "....private life includes an individual's physical and psychological integrity, personal or private space, the collection and publication of personal information, personal identity, personal autonomy and sexuality, relation with others and reputation...." and pursuant to decisions of RTUK and Court of Appeal, it is designed to ensure that the right to use private life of the people from being disclosed to third parties can be balanced against legitimate aims of a public order/interest. Article 8 rights of the Law often compete with other qualified rights, in particular the freedom of expression or freedom of media. Case law has made it clear that neither article has automatic precedence over the other. Ultimately, RTUK, Court of Appeal and the Council of State decide on a case-by-case basis how the balance should be struck.

For instance, pursuant to Court of Appeal decision, the one of the most important duties of media is to provide timely, accurate information to the public on matters of public interest and to constitute knowledge and awareness of people. The border of freedom of press is accuracy, actuality, public interest, public attention, intellectual commitment between scope and expressions. In parallel with this decision, RTUK decides that deception issue and effects of divorces on the people's physiology in the TV program. During the program, the frontman gave real life examples about divorce and deception with using famous people's names, it constitutes breach of private life and there is no legitimate aim of a public order/ interest to display the private details of divorcement of famous people.

Cases on violation of privacy often involve lives of famous people (public figures) such as politicians, mayors, actresses, singers.. Where a person's character is an essential part of performing their public role, the public has the right to know any facts which reveal special aspects of their character, especially faults. RTUK deems that public interest should be taken into account in preparation of news regarding such individuals. In that respect, journalists are required to consider a sensible balance between public interest and private life when reporting such news.

For example, RTUK, in a decision dated April 2012, interpreted secret and close-up video shooting of a Turkish celebrity's private telephone messages to a person during her divorce process as a violation of privacy considering sensational aims of the news. In the decisions of RTUK, it is observed that not only the right of public to receive news, but also the private lives of individuals are protected. Some of the issues considered by RTUK are accuracy, actuality and proportionality.

As stated above, freedom of press often compete with protection of privacy in many cases. The protection of privacy limits freedom of press therefore the Court of Appeal balances the two rights to resolve cases. RTUK and Court of Appeal look at the balance and relationship between a person's right to privacy and the public's right to know about that person's life. Under certain conditions, the Court of Appeal accepts violations of privacy. Also in the judicial assessment, the factors considered are the accuracy of news, public interest and protection of public order, newsworthiness and whether the news could be expressed without violating the individual's privacy. The most significant conditions considered by RTUK are accuracy, actuality and proportionality during their evaluation.

Primarily the news should reflect the truth; therefore, journalists should sufficiently research the subject before publishing or broadcasting the news to public. The news that do not reflect the truth are interpreted as a violation of the law. The news shall be based on some principles as trueness, independence and impartiality. The second important condition considered by the Court of Appeal is public interest and the protection of public order. As illustrated in the examples above, the news that violates privacy can only be justified if the Court of Appeal or RTUK establishes that it serves public interest. Furthermore, RTUK does not abide violations of privacy for the purposes of rating or competition with others in the media sector. Newsworthiness is another condition used by the Court of Appeal during the interpretation of balance of rights. In fact, newsworthiness depends on the type of news. For example, some news, which directly concern public order, could maintain its newsworthiness more than a simple event. Finally, the Court of Appeal considers whether the news could be expressed without violating the individual's privacy in the process of preparing the news. In other words, expression form of the news shall be in compliance with the aim of the concerning subject. The Court of Appeal interprets publication of identity, image, name or life story of a person without consent in some news as a violation of privacy if its publication is not newsworthy, unnecessary and disproportionate with the aim of the news. If a journalist could reach the same aim without violating privacy, this violation could not be accepted by the Court of Appeal. In the RTUK decision dated September 2012 regarding the connection between news and the information that is used in the news, sport anchors talked about the match-fixing case, leque and football teams in the sport program, however one of the anchor provided the health report which contains personal and private information of sports man and there is no connection between the report and the discussion/ news. RTUK decides that its publication is not newsworthy, unnecessary and disproportionate with the aim of the news, in this regard, RTUK awards an administrative fine to TV channel due to breach of privacy of people's life.

In conclusion, it can be said that there is a fine line between the freedom of press and privacy rights and these are competing rights. Additionally, on issues of privacy and public interest, there is often no clear-cut distinction between right and wrong. In this regard RTUK, Court of Appeal and Council of State decide on a case-by case basis. The case law provides a means of balancing the individual's right to guard his or her privacy against the public's right to know about matters of general importance.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.