Turkish Parliament will soon debate a new draft bill prepared by the government to ensure better data protection for privacy. The draft bill offers aims to protect all personal information of citizens from prying eyes and will make privacy laws in Turkey in compliance with the laws of the European Union to which Turkey seeks membership.
The bill also seeks to end blacklisting practices which were once common in state institutions.
Under the new bill drafted by the Justice Ministry, all personal data, ranging from ethnicity, faith and political affiliation, will be restricted to access by any agency, with the exception of cases regarding national security; namely, investigations into terror attacks. It will be mandatory to seek consent from the individual in order to gain access to personal data. This also includes information regarding a person's sex life, religious symbols such as the headscarf or a person's affiliation with groups or formal memberships. The government will also set up a board to ensure the preservation of personal data and the restriction of access, enabling any citizen to be notified if his or her personal data is being stored properly. The board will also investigate any complaints of the breach of personal data.
The draft bill will also make it more difficult to move personal data abroad, like in cases of trips made abroad for treatment. The transfer of data regarding one's health to clinics and individuals overseas will also be subject to a set of approvals given by authorities.
The existing laws on protection of personal data were criticized for insufficiency and lacking a clear definition of what personal data includes.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has dismissed criticism that the draft bill might allow security forces to gain access to personal data and said that the bill, on the contrary, will be a measure against any potential blacklisting efforts. "It basically sets principles and rules for the processing of personal data. There will be a board overseeing its application. The bill also brings heavy prison terms and fines for violation of privacy and the illegal access of personal data," he said at an event last week.
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