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Under the Law numbered 7253, Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Combating Crimes Committed by Means of Such Publication

2020, Erdemir&Özmen Attorney Partnership

Under the Law numbered 7253, Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Combating Crimes Committed by Means of Such Publication

“The Law on Making Amendments to the Law on Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Combating Crimes Committed by Means of Such Publication”, numbered 7253, (“the Law”) has been adopted by the Grand National Assembly of the Republic of Turkey on 29.07.2020 and passed into law as published in the Official Gazette dated 31 July 2020 and numbered 31202.

Under the Law, it is aimed to regulate the publications on social media platforms and to fight against the crimes committed through internet.

It is prescribed that the social network providers shall mandatorily assign a representative 

Pursuant to the Law, the concept “social network provider” has been introduced with regard to “the Law on Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Combating Crimes Committed by Means of Such Publication”, numbered 5651 (“the Law numbered 5651”) and several existing concepts have been amended. Accordingly; real or legal persons that allow users to create, view or share contents, such as text, image, sound, voice, location, for social interaction on the internet are defined as social network provider. In addition, the term “person in charge” referred to in the Law numbered 5651 is amended as “persons in charge, employed or hired by content, hosting and access providers” and the term “access provider” referred to in the same is amended as “relevant content, hosting and access provider”.  

Furthermore, the supplementary article 4 is regulated under the Law numbered 5651 by the article 6 of the Law, and this article shall enter into force on 01.10.2020. As per the provision contained in the paragraph 1 of the supplementary article 4, the foreign-based social network providers whose networks are accessed by more than one million visitors on a daily basis from Turkey shall designate at least one person as a representative in Turkey, authorized to ensure that the requirements of the notifications, notices or requests to be transmitted by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (“the Authority”), the Access Providers Association (“the Association”), judicial or administrative authorities are fulfilled and that the applications to be submitted by persons within the scope of this Law are replied and that the other obligations included in the scope of this Law are fulfilled.   

The social network provider shall publish on its website the authorized person’s contact information, which publication shall be easily visible and directly accessible. Furthermore, the social network provider is obliged to declare to Authority the identity and contact information pertaining to this person. In case the representative is a real person, the representative must absolutely be a Turkish citizen.  

The paragraph 2 of the supplementary article 4 prescribes that the Authority shall make the relevant notification to the network provider in case the social network provider does not fulfill its obligation to designate and declare its representative. As per the mentioned provision, an administrative fine in the amount of ten million Turkish Liras shall be imposed on the social network provider in case the social network provider does not fulfill this obligation within thirty days as from the notification. Besides, in case this obligation is still not fulfilled within thirty days as from the notification of the administrative fine imposed, an administrative fine in the amount of thirty million Turkish Liras shall be imposed in addition to the first administrative fine referred to above.     

If it is found that this obligation is not fulfilled within thirty days as from the notification date although the notification for the second administrative fine has been served, the taxpayer real and legal persons domiciled in Turkey shall be prohibited to give a new ad to the relevant social network provider. In this case, the social network provider that has committed the breach shall not conclude a new contract and shall not make the relevant money transfer.   

Nevertheless, in case this obligation is not fulfilled within three months as from the date of the decision on the advertising ban, the Telecommunications Communications President may apply for the competent criminal court of peace in order that the social network provider’s internet traffic bandwidth is narrowed at the rate of fifty percent. In case the mentioned obligation is still not fulfilled within thirty days following the court’s decision accepting the application, the Telecommunications Communications President may this time apply for the competent criminal court of peace in order for the social network provider’s internet traffic bandwidth to be narrowed by ninety percent.   

Pursuant to another provision (the paragraph 3) prescribed by the supplementary article 4; the social network providers shall reply positively or negatively within 48 hours the applications that will be submitted by the persons in cases of violation of their personal rights and their right to privacy. In case the reply to such application is negative, it is mandatory to transmit this reply together with the relevant justification(s).  

In case the reply to such application is negative, however, the social network provider does not give justification, the sanction i.e. an administrative fine in the amount five million Turkish Liras shall be imposed on the social network provider.   

The reports, containing statistical and categorical information pertaining to the applications, should be transmitted to the Authority by the social network provider in 6-month periods  

Within the scope of the provision contained in the paragraph 4 of the supplementary article 4, the social network provider is expected to submit such report to the Authority once every 6 months. In this case; the reports, which shall be prepared in Turkish by the Country or foreign-based social network provider that is accessed by more than one million visitors on a daily basis from Turkey and which shall contain statistical and categorical information pertaining to the applications and the implementation of the decisions ordering the removal of the content and/or the blocking the access, as notified to the social network provider, shall be transmitted to the Authority by the social network provider in six-month periods.  Such report shall contain no personal data and shall also be published on the social network provider’s own website.  

In addition, the Country or foreign-based social network provider that is accessed by more than one million visitors on a daily basis from Turkey is expected to take measures necessary for hosting in Turkey the data of its users in Turkey.  

In order to determine to what extent and in how much time the decisions of judicial and administrative authorities and the requests of the users are fulfilled by the network providers, the network providers shall be required to submit the reports containing statistical and categorical information in Turkish. A fine in the amount of ten million Turkish Liras shall be imposed in case this obligation is not fulfilled.   

Removal of the content shall be ensured, instead of blocking access 

The persons may apply for the social network provider in cases of violation of their personal rights and their right to privacy. In this case, a decision may be rendered for the removal of such content, if this is possible, instead of a decision for blocking access.  

Such decision may also order that the social network provider shall make the relevant notification to the search engines in order that the content is not listed by the search engines since the content has been removed and that the applicant’s name is therefore not associated with the violation-related content by those search engines. Therewithal, by operation of the Law, it will be mandatory of the social network providers to reply the complaints about any contents within 24 hours or in no later than 48 hours; and if they do not fulfill this obligation, administrative fine shall be imposed on those social network providers.  

The administrative fines imposed under this Law may be notified directly to the addressee by the Authority in case the addressee that has committed the breach is abroad, in which case the notification shall be made in accordance with procedure set out in the paragraph 3 of the article 3 contained in the Law numbered 5651 on Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Combating Crimes Committed by Means of Such Publication. Accordingly, by electronic mails or other communication means, on the basis of the data obtained through the IP address, domain name, communication means, contact details on their web pages or similar resources, the notification may be made to those that carry out their relevant activities domestically or from abroad. Such notification shall have the force of a notification made in accordance with the Notifications Law numbered 7201. Such notification shall be deemed to have been made at the end of the fifth day following the notification date.

Besides, another innovation brought by the Law is that the wording “blocking access” is amended as “removal of the content and/or blocking access”. Within the framework of the legal arrangements issued, the social network providers shall complete the necessary works and processes within 3 months in order to fulfill their obligations included in the scope of the necessity to respond, within 48 hours, to the applications for “removal of the content from publication and blocking access” and “blocking access to the content due to the right to privacy”. Furthermore, the social network providers shall publish on their websites and transmit to the Authority in June 2021 the first reports they shall prepare pursuant to the applications for “removal of the content from publication and blocking access” and “blocking access to the content due to the right to privacy”.

Conclusion

Under the Law, mainly, it is aimed to conclude actively the personal applications submitted by the internet users whose personal rights and right to privacy are violated, and to contact directly the social network providers in order to overcome the difficulties experienced in the law-enforcement officers’ services and in the public institutions’ notifications about any illegal acts, and it is also aimed that the contents constituting crime are removed or the access to those contents are blocked in case the removal is not possible. Accordingly, as explained above in detail, sanctions in high amounts are stipulated in case of violation of several articles. Furthermore, the social network providers are henceforth obliged to reply rapidly within 48 hours the applications that will be transmitted to them and to prepare, declare and publish in six-month periods the reports containing statistical and categorical information pertaining to all these activities they carry out.   

Please click on the following link to access the full text of the Law:  

https://www.tbmm.gov.tr/kanunlar/k7253.html

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