Turkish intel, security to get exclusive authority on personal data

Turkish intel, security to get exclusive authority on personal data

Nuray Babacan ANKARA
Turkish intel, security to get exclusive authority on personal data

MİT chief Hakan Fidan sits during his weekly meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. AA Photo

Turkey’s intelligence agency, the police and the gendarmerie are to get exclusive authority on the personal data of citizens, according to a new draft law that is likely to stir further debate about “profiling” by the government.

Earlier this year, former President Abdullah Gül had ordered the State Audit Board (DDK) to review a related draft law that had been prepared by the Turkish government. The draft had been slammed by opposition parties on the grounds that it would increase the National Intelligence Organization’s (MİT) powers without adequate checks and balances. The DDK report acknowledged problems in the draft law regarding the protection of personal data.

However, after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ascension from the Prime Ministry to Presidency, new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu prioritized the legislation of the bill. His government has recently amended the draft law for the third time, giving even more authority to the MİT, the police and the gendarmerie. The new bill stipulates that these three institutions will be allowed “to process personal data.”

Turkey’s Financial Crime Investigation Board (MASAK) will also be exempt from the legal limitations for public institutions on personal data collection, if it is conducting an investigation into individuals regarding money earned through criminal means.

The waiver clause in the new bill means that the institutions bearing this exclusive right will not be required to inform citizens before collecting their personal data. In addition, citizens will not be legally allowed to apply to these institutions to learn whether their personal data has been collected or to ask them to delete it. Meanwhile, these institutions will be exempt from the inspections of the Board for the Protection of Personal Data, a seven-member committee appointed by the Cabinet and reporting to the Justice Ministry.

All other public institutions will be able to collect personal data including “names, phone numbers, traffic license plates, social security numbers, passport numbers, biographies, photos, videos, audio records, fingerprints and genetic data” in a transparent and accountable way.

Race, ethnicity, political opinions, religion, sect, union membership, past convictions and the sexual details of a citizen will not be collected as personal data by the nonexempt public institutions, which will be legally required to inform a citizen if his or her personal data has been collected. The data will be deleted after the reasons for its collection no longer pertain, or following a personal application.