Bozkır: Personal data act will strengthen Turkish-EU cooperation against terror
by Ali Ünal
BRUSSELSFeb 06, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Ali Ünal
Feb 06, 2016 12:00 am
Turkish EU Minister Volkan Bozkır said on Friday in Brussels that cooperation between Turkey and the EU in the fight against terrorism and illegal immigration will be strengthened through implementation of Turkey's long awaited personal data protection act.
A personal data protection act, drafted in compliance with the laws of the EU, will be brought soon to the Turkish Parliament. Under the new bill drafted by the Justice Ministry, access to all personal data, including that concerning ethnicity, faith and political affiliation, will be restricted by all agencies with exceptions for cases regarding national security – namely, investigations into terror attacks. The government will also set up a board to ensure the security of personal data and the restriction of access to security databases, enabling all citizens to learn whether their personal data is being stored properly. The board will also investigate any complaints regarding breaches of personal data.
Commenting on this issue, EU Minister Volkan Bozkır said that cooperation between the Turkish police force and the European Police Office (Europol) within the field of counter-terrorism and the fight against illegal immigration is currently not at the desired level, but that full competency will be reached after the act comes into effect.
"We have been seeking to implement the personal data protection act for almost seven years. The main purpose of this law is to prevent the undesired access to already collected personal data, and establish a mechanism to punish those who illegally exploit personal data. With the implementation of this act, Turkey will not only protect the personal data of its own citizens, but also guarantee protection of the data of EU citizens. Therefore, EU institutions such as Europol will have no worry about sharing data concerning suspects, and this will strengthen cooperation between Turkey and the EU in combating terrorism,'' Bozkır said.
As part of the effort to stop the flow of foreign fighters, Turkey has so far banned more than 27,000 suspects from entering and prevented them from heading to Syria or Iraq. Turkey has deported more than 2,500 suspected foreign fighters to their countries, and more than 4,000 individuals have been interrogated at special risk analysis units at airports. Some 1,550 of them were sent back after being declared suspects.
Turkish security officials have been complaining about the paucity of cooperation in intelligence-sharing with EU countries, which is needed to prevent European citizens from joining DAESH, and underline that Turkey has been doing its part to identify and deliver potential foreign fighters seeking to cross the border into Syria to join DAESH. After the Paris attacks last November, for instance, Turkish officials reported that they had warned France over a key Paris terrorist suspect, but received no response from the French authorities.