National Mobile Warning System has entered into force on February 26, 2021 in order to create a system to alert the citizens of urgencies related to disasters, emergencies, public order, national security and national cyber security. The Regulation on the Establishment and Operation of National Mobile Warning System ("Regulation") does not just concern the operators, but also the manufacturers, importers and producers, albeit limited to the transition period.

I. Methods

Four methods are used for the warning system:

(i) CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alarm System) is a system at ETSI TS 122 268 standard or a national and international standard replacing it. CMAS enables users having a device with the necessary technical specifications to receive a notification in case of disasters, emergencies, public order, national security and national cyber security.

(ii) CBS (Cell Broadcast System) is a system at ETSI TS 123.041 standard or a national and international standard replacing it. CBS is a technology which allows all users in a certain area to be delivered a text message.

(iii) SMS is the well-known text communication method that does not exceed 160 characters including operator code in mobile devices.

(iv) Pre-call Announcement is the voice recording that is played to the subscribers before starting a call in a mobile electronic communication network.

II. Obligations of the Operators

The Regulation obliges the operators to first make sure that their systems and networks are adapted for the notification system to operate efficiently, and secondly to ensure its security. Accordingly;

(i) Operators are obliged to establish and operate the technical infrastructure that will ensure complete and free delivery of the alert notifications, which are sent by the national mobile warning system through CMAS, CBS, SMS and pre-call announcement methods as stated in the Regulation, and within the defined periods and performance criteria.

(ii) Operators shall cooperate with manufacturers, producers or importers to ensure that their devices are compatible with the system.

(iii) Operators shall use the CBS capacity without obstructing the national mobile warning system, prioritize the alert notifications within the scope of the Regulation and shall not use the channels assigned to alert notifications in any other scope or for any other purpose.

(iv) Operators shall take precautions such as limiting the maximum number of messages within a specific period of time, restricting recipient subscriber numbers etc. for controlled use of the capacity, if the SMS capacity formed for national mobile warning system is used commercially.

(v) Operators shall not use any of the data, including location data that they may obtain for all types of alert notifications under the national mobile warning system for any other purpose or share them with third parties, unless required by legislation.

(vi) In order to raise awareness and inform users about the subject, operational status of the system infrastructure shall be checked by the operator on a date to be determined by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) with alert notifications sent at least once a year in a preset method and including a preset content. Operators shall inform ICTA of the system's operational status before and after the relevant alert notification.

(vii) Operators shall take the necessary technical, administrative and managerial measures to ensure system security, information security and cyber security for the establishment and operation of national mobile warning system. If deemed necessary, the Authority may impose additional obligations to the relevant operators in this context.

(viii) ICTA is authorized to determine target and performance criteria for the establishment and operation of national mobile warning system and alert notification methods

(viii) ICTA may determine new additional methods and sub methods for the identified alert notification methods by taking into account technological developments, national security and public policy requirements. Operators are responsible for the integration of the additional new methods and sub methods into the national mobile warning system.

If the operator fails to comply with the articles of the regulation, the Regulation of Administrative Sanctions of ICTA will be applied.

III. CMAS Method Requirements

Alert notifications under the CMAS method will be made in four categories; (i) state alert notification, (ii) life threat alert notification, (iii) amber alert notification and (iv) test alert notification and all of these alert notifications are assigned specific channels separately for Turkish and secondary languages. The Regulation also states that it may be left to the users' choice to receive the alert notifications under the categories (ii), (iii) and (iv). However, opting out from state alert notification is prohibited. Titles of the alert notifications shall be determined by ICTA. Alert notifications must be maximum 360 characters long and operators shall broadcast the notifications sent by the authorized user through CMAS method, to be sent to the users, within five (5) minutes at most, following the completion of all approval processes in the notification approval procedure. Operators shall make sure that alert notifications made via the CMAS method fulfill these requirements at a minimum of 95% compliance rate each calendar year.The Regulation also defines the "authorized user" as the representative of institution and organization authorized to identify alert notifications to be made under this Regulation.

IV. SMS Method Requirements

Notifications to be made by SMS method within the scope of the national mobile warning system can be made on the basis of the selected geographical region, province, district and area. The Regulation also provides a formula to calculate the time in which the operators are required to send the notifications by SMS. Again, operators shall make sure that alert notifications they make through SMS fullfill the set calculation requirements with a minimum of 95% compliance each calendar year.

V. Pre-call Announcement Requirements

Pre-call announcement content is uploaded to the national mobile warning system in the format determined by ICTA, by the relevant authorized user. The information about how long the recorded message will be, is set by the operator and the number of consecutive calls of a subscriber to be played within this period are entered into the national mobile warning system by the relevant authorized user. Operators should prepare their systems for alert notifications to be sent through the pre-call announcement method within one hour after all approval processes in the notification approval process are completed; with the content of the announcement up to a maximum of fifteen (15) seconds to be conveyed by maximum three consecutive calls to the subscribers. Operators shall ensure they attain 95% compliance on the requests conveyed to it within a calendar year. Operators shall also make sure that pre-call announcement is played to the subscribers at a minimum of 99% of total calls sent out (limited to the consecutive call number indicated in the alert notification of each subscriber) within the period the alert warning will be applied. Operators shall broadcast the alert notifications made through pre-call announcement to their own subscribers within Turkey. Pre-call announcement method shall not be used in emergency calls.

VI. CBS Requirements

The operator shall broadcast the notifications to be sent by the CBS method to the users, by processing it within five (5) minutes after all approval processes in the notification approval procedure are completed, independent of the geographical area notified by the authorized user. Again, operators shall make sure to comply with 95% of the requests conveyed to it within a calendar yearunder this method.

VII. Requirements Concerning Devices

The devices to be supplied to the market by the device manufacturer, producer or importer (i) must have features that allow usage of CMAS method within the scope of the CMAS requirements set in the Regulation and (ii) must conform with ETSI TS 122 268 standard or a national and international standard replacing it and technical specifications set in such standard(s). A sentence explicitly indicating the foregoing standard conformance requirement in their introduction and operating manuals must be included under the instruction and operating manuals of devices within the scope of this Regulation, by manufacturers, producers or importers. The relevant sentence may also be presented to users in a supplemental information page included in the package of the device for one (1) year from the Regulation`s entry into force. Manufacturers, producers and importers should adapt the adaptable devices (that are already in the market or will be introduced to the market within three (3) months as of February 26, 2021) within six (6) months following the Regulation`s entry into force to enable the use of the CMAS method. Three (3) months after the entry into force, those devices that do not meet the requirements under the Regulation will not be allowed to enter the market.

As of the publication of this LIQ, all of these transition deadlines have passed. Market supervision and audit operations regarding the compliance of the devices with the requirements set forth under this Regulation will be carried out within the scope of Wireless Devices Regulation and Regulation on Market Supervision and Audit of Wireless and Telecommunication Terminal Devices. The administrative sanctions included in the applicable legislation will be applied against the producer, manufacturer or importer, if it is determined that the device does not comply with the provisions of this Regulation.

This article was first published in Legal Insights Quarterly by ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law in December 2021. A link to the full Legal Insight Quarterly may be found here.

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.