Turkey’s top court partially annuls BTK monopoly on personal data

The Constitutional Court has partially annulled a law giving the Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) broad powers to regulate the communication sector, record electronic data and protect the privacy of individuals.

The BTK law, according to critics, gives the government extensive powers to monitor and control individuals’ communication. The court’s ruling to remove the BTK’s powers to save personal data will go into effect six months after the top court’s ruling is published in the Official Gazette.

Regarding the top court’s ruling to partially annul the BTK law, lawyer Ergin Cinmen has said the court ruled that the verdict be implemented six months after its publication in the Official Gazette, thus aiming to avoid the creation of a hole in the law before the government proposes and enacts new legislation on the issue.

Cinmen stressed that stating a set time period before the implementation of Constitutional Court verdicts is not common, but if the government does not make amendments or prepare a new draft on the nullified articles of the law, then the law will automatically be ineffective.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) İzmir deputy Erdal Aksünger also said that authorizing the BTK and Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) to save individuals’ data is totally wrong, adding: “They cannot be trusted in terms of protecting our private data, because both institutions lack accountability. Yet there is no law concerning the issue. They operate under regulations instead of legislation. Most public institutions in Turkey are under government pressure and control, and they operate in accordance with the government’s orders. So no citizen can trust them because of their operations. Thus the Constitutional Court ruling is appropriate and reasonable.”

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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