Turkey to soon adopt key convention on protection of personal data
Bülent Sarıoğlu - ANKARATurkey is preparing to adopt a critical international convention for the protection of personal data, with the document now just awaiting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s approval.
The Turkish Parliament ratified the Council of Europe’s “Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data” last week, 35 years after Ankara signed it in 1981.
The convention has so far entered into force in 46 members of the 47-state Council of Europe, with Turkey the only member that has neither ratified nor adopted it. In addition to those 46 countries, Uruguay has also adopted it.
According to Article 90 of the Turkish constitution, international agreements duly put into effect have the force of law.
The convention is the first binding international instrument which protects the individual against abuses which may accompany the collection and processing of personal data and which seeks to regulate at the same time the transnational flow of personal data.
In addition to providing guarantees in relation to the collection and processing of personal data, it outlaws the processing of “sensitive” data on a person’s race, politics, health, religion, sexual life, criminal record and the like in the absence of proper legal safeguards. The convention also enshrines the individual’s right to know that information is stored on him or her and, if necessary, to have it corrected.
Restrictions on the rights laid down in the convention are only possible when overriding interests such as state security and defense are at stake. The convention also imposes some restrictions on transnational flows of personal data to states where legal regulation does not provide equivalent protection.
Ratification of the convention has also been among the legislative changes which are aimed at enabling Turkish citizens’ visa-free travel to the Schengen area.
A draft law on the Protection of the Personal Data currently being debated by parliament’s Justice Commission will support the convention which is expected to make a contribution to operational cooperation between Turkish institutions and the “Eurojustice” network of European prosecutors-general.