Turkey: A General Overview On Data Protection And Privacy Law In Turkey

Last Updated: 9 April 2008

Article by Emre Berk from Bener Law Office

This review will assess the scope of Data Protection and Privacy only in reference to personal data.

Data accurate data that is, is one of the most valuable assets for the world today. When we look the etymology of the word in Wikipedia, it is described as "[data is] the plural of Latin datum , neuter past participle of dare, "to give", hence "something given". So in the context of personal data, this infers that we are giving away information which is of importance and value to the receiver. In every age, in every industry and in every sector, data has always mattered and still does. In the commercial-driven world we operate in today, it is evident to see the role that data plays in the global market from marketing giants with multimillion campaigns to small enterprises and even government bodies, accurate and purposive data is the backbone of their marketing and sales strategies. As human nature, we are more willing to give what is demanded of us without properly considering the consequences this may have in the future. Your name, your address and your phone number, all seem to be simple or irrelevant personal details. However today, where we have already surpassed the space age and are currently living in a "cyber age" where our personal data is shared, exchanged and stored electronically. Most services, enterprises and any form of information needed from us is likely to be held electronically or in database systems and this compels us to be more willing to provide such personal information such as our mobile phone numbers, e-mail addresses without contemplating the possible repercussions this may have.

Nowadays, information can exist in many forms. It can be printed or written on paper, stored electronically, transmitted by post or via electronic means, shared in media, or exchanged verbally. Whatever forms the information takes, or means by which it is shared or stored, it should always be appropriately protected.

So, without any doubt, there is a need for the protection of data, but how can this be achieved? Is it really that difficult? As information can exist in many forms, there are just as many, if not more ways it can stolen or misused. Essentially, the obligation to protect data should be the government's responsibility through issuance of various and effective legislations and this must surely start at the core; in the Constitution.

So, let's focus on and have closer look at Turkish law in terms of its data privacy and protection Law/Legislation. Within the national legal framework, Article 20 of the Turkish Constitution regulating the Confidentiality and Protection of Private Life states that; "every person has the right to confidentiality and personal privacy and these rights are untouchable". This regulation also constitutes that; "every person has absolute freedom to decide whether to provide or not his/her personal data and in the latter, he/she shall not be compelled to do so." Restriction and limitation of these rights are possible in exceptional circumstances by governmental authorities, police, courts and by some other legal entities. However, such particular restrictions must be legitimized with a court's decision or with a state of emergency or restriction conditions must be defined explicitly in a regulation.

The second legislation related with the issue is, the Turkish Civil Code. According to the Article 24 of the Turkish Civil Code, which regulates the Protection of Civil Rights; "the person whose personal rights are violated can instantly claim protection from the legal enforces and the courts".

In addition, the Electronic Signature Act of 2004 can also be perceived as a big step forward for the Turkish Government in terms of data protection and privacy which mainly regulates; (i) that e-signatures have the same value and effect as actual written signatures and thus validate proceedings concluded in the electronic environment; and (ii) the implementation of several regulations by public authorities.

With regards to the data privacy and protection in Electronic Act, Article 12 regulates data collection and data processing and Article 16 underlines the importance of express consent from the provider and penalizes contrary receipt of data.

The "Telecommunication Council" is commissioned to be the main responsible institution for Data Protection and Privacy by the Turkish Government. Under the supervision of the Council, there are also some regulations in terms of Data Protection in the Telecommunication sector such as; "Regulation on Personal Data Processing and Protection at Telecommunication Sector". In Article 20 of the related regulation, it is clearly stated that "you shall not obtain any personal data without the express consent of the person; and process/use it in terms of communicating by telephone, fax, mobile phone and electronic mailing or any other electronic communication device". And the subject should always have easy access to an "opt-in/opt-out" option whenever he/she wants.

Despite the above, it can be reduced that, there is actually no specific regulation concerning the data protection and privacy in Turkish law. Hence, the government is working on a draft law and shall soon promulgate a specific code in accordance with Agreement 108 of EU "Convention for Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Data Processing" which Turkey is a signatory to. But as mentioned, it is still in the pipeline and is not yet adopted.

Nevertheless, the Turkish Penal Code, Turkish Civil Law and other specific laws such as Banking Law, Capital Markets Law may be applied to the said issues as appropriate. Other than these regulations which can be applied, we hereby also want to state the relevant laws in terms of civil and penal liabilities.  

Civil Liability

Disclosing or misuse of personal and/or confidential data in any way is deemed an invasion to personal privacy and consequently an infringement on personal rights. Any unlawful invasion to the person's privacy including personal and/or confidential information will incur legal consequences.  The scope of personal or confidential data is determined by a judge of the courts under his sole discretion unless such scope is defined within the terms of a confidentiality agreement or any other agreement between the parties or is specified by a special Code. An aggrieved party may file the lawsuits as defined under Turkish Law. Secondly, an aggrieved party may receive indemnification of their material and immaterial damages pursuant to Article.49 of the Code of Obligations.  

Prior to Article 24/II of Civil Code there were three legal grounds in which invasion of a person's privacy was justified upon.  Briefly, these were; the express consent of the aggrieved person, for special private or public benefit and at the request of authorities granted by law.  

Penal Liability

Article 135 of the Turkish Penal Code imposes imprisonment on perpetrators misusing or exploiting personal data whilst Article 136 of the Turkish Penal Code enforces prison sentences for perpetrators who obtain personal data illegally. However, once again, express consent of the aggrieved person is considered a justification and may relieve such penal.

Although it was stressed that governments are mainly obliged to take the required measures in terms of Data Protection, this responsibility should also be undertaken in conjunction with other parameters. As it is also stated in the "ISO/IEC 17799:2005-Information Technology Security Techniques and Code of Practice for Information Security Management; "information security and data protection can only be achieved by implementing a suitable set of controls, including policies, processes, procedures, organized structures and software and hardware functions". These controls need to be established, implemented, monitored, reviewed and improved, where necessary, to ensure that both the customer data protection and the business objectives of the organization are met. This should be done in conjunction with other business management processes.

In light of the information that has been set out, there are 4 main and globally respected principles for data Protection and Privacy;

  • Confidentiality
  • Integrity
  • Availability
  • Authentication

Regardless of how many measures we put in place or how much responsibility we put on the governments' shoulders, it is always going to be a matter of caution and diligence when giving out personal information. It's also imperative on the event that we are obliged to or forced to give personal info in order to receive a specified service like banking or etc. We, as citizens and as consumers, the primary subjects of data and information, should be aware of the importance of our personal rights and the meaning of privacy. This awareness will be the driving force behind the governments' initiatives for them to take the required actions.

The world is not round anymore as Galileo stated hundreds of years ago, "it became flat". People can plug, play, connect and collaborate with equal power than ever before-which is what is happening in the world- this helps us to understand the impact of all the technological changes evolving at such speed today. We therefore need to be alert and place importance to protection of our human rights parallel to the benefits and exposure gained through exchange of information as the world becomes flatter.

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”

Related Topics
Related Articles
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
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions