Constitutional Court of Turkey approved of the Presidential Communications Directorate to access all private information of Turkish citizens through all official institutions and public companies....

Constitutional Court of Turkey approved of the Presidential Communications Directorate to access all private information of Turkish citizens through all official institutions and public companies.

According to journalist Alican Uludağ's article on ankaragazetecisi.com, the Consittutional Court of Turkey has ruled that Communications Directorate requesting private information belonging to any citizen from all official institutions and public companies when they see it "necessary", does not violate the constitution. Five members of the court including the President of the Constitutional Court, Zühtü Arslan objected to the ruling and warned that the private data of the citizens would then be in the hands of the Presidential Communications Directorate without any provisions or data protection procedure.

BASED ON PRESIDENTIAL DECREE

According to the article 17 of the Presidential Decree on Communications Directorate Organization No: 14 which was published on July 24, 2018, the directorate was authorized to access any personal data from all institutions and organizations. The article in question states, "The Communications Directorate is authorized to request all data that it sees necessary from all public institutions, companies and all other real and institutional organizations. All these institutions are thereby required to supply the relevant information to the directorate in a timely manner."

CHP HAD OPPOSED THE AUTHORIZATION

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT APPROVED

High Court rejected CHP's objection with 5/10 votes while the President of the Constitutional Court voted in favour of the objection stating that this would allow the Communications Directorate to access private data of the citizens without any data protection or preservation provisions. In the explanation it was stated that the Communications Directorate needs to access the data in question, considering the responsibilities and duties of the directorate, "the data that can be requested is limited to the duties and responsibilities of the directorate. In other words, the directorate naturally and must regulate what data it needs to work with to fulfill the duties and responsibilities it is assigned; and this is not a regulation that focuses on personal data."

"FORBIDDEN ZONE"

The President of the Constitutional Court Zühtü Arslan, Deputy President Hasan Tahsin Gökcan, Engin Yıldırım, M. Emin Kuz, Yusuf Şevki Hakyemez have objected to the ruling and penned a counter-vote. Arslan stated that the regulation violates the constitution both in terms of authorization and its contents, adding that the basic rights and liberties, personal rights and political rights as cited in the constitution, cannot be regulated through a Presidential Decree and this falls into the "forbidden zone".

UNLIMITED POWER

Arslan also added that the data that can be requested by the Presidential Communications Directorate is personal and private data of the citizens, and such an authority must be regulated only through legislation openly, in a well-framed specific manner. Arslan also said, "this allos the Communications Directorate to be authorized with 'unlimited power' and the regulation is vague and is open for unforeseen consequences" adding that the regulation is making protection of private data obsolete in the country.
Translated by Gürkan Özturan