Significant Amendments to the Information Technologies and Communication Realm under the First Package of the Judicial Reform
IT & Communications
The Law on Amending the Code of Criminal Procedure and Certain Laws (the “Law“) was published in the Official Gazette No. 30928 on October 24, 2019. The Law introduces significant amendments to the information technologies and communication laws.
Publications on the Internet
With the new Law, Article 8 the Law No. 5651 on the Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Combating Crimes Committed Through Such Publications (the “Internet Law“) is amended as follows.
- As per Article 8, access to online content may be blocked if there is a reasonable indication that the online content constitutes one of the crimes listed in the same article. Before the amendments, there was no explicit provision regulating that access ban decisions based on Article 8 could lead to an access ban to the entirety of a website. In practice, however, courts were still rendering access blocking decisions for the entirety of a website. According to the newly introduced paragraph 17, access blocking decisions should target the relevant content, or the part or section where the violation takes place. However, if access to the violating content cannot technically be blocked, the amendment allows blocking access to the whole website. In this regard, amendments clarified that access blocking decisions for the entirety of the relevant website can be rendered based on Article 8.
- As per the amendments to Article 8 of the Internet Law, if the courts issue a non-prosecution or acquittal decision concerning an internet address, such decision, along with the information on the relevant internet address, will ultimately be notified to the Information Technologies and Communication Authority (the “Authority“). Previously, the relevant internet website subject to the non-prosecution or acquittal decision remained blocked as the previous version of Article 8 did not provide any obligation to make a detailed notification to the Authority. Accordingly, the Authority will be informed of access blocking measures and able to take active steps to enact the measures.
The Crime of Unlawful Sharing or Acquiring of Personal Data
The Law also introduced a new paragraph under Article 136 of the Turkish Criminal Code concerning “the unlawful sharing or acquiring of data”. The newly introduced paragraph increases by one fold the criminal penalties imposed on the unlawful sharing or acquisition of the statements or images in the testimonies of victims of child sexual abuse and sexual assault.
As the amendments introduced by the Law concern not only organizations publishing content on the internet but also criminal provisions relating to personal data under the Turkish Criminal Code, scope of the amendments is very extensive in terms of information technologies and communication laws. In this respect, all relevant companies must carefully review such extensive amendments and take active steps accordingly.