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Legal Alerts
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ICTA Issues Advertisement Ban on Certain Social Network Providers

Legal Alerts
IT & Communications
General

Recent Development

The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) issued a ban regarding advertisements placed on certain foreign social network providers due to their failure to appoint local representatives in Turkey, as required by the new amendments introduced to the Law No. 5651 on the Regulation of Internet Publications and Prevention of Crimes Committed through These Publications (Internet Law).

The ICTA’s relevant decisions No. 4202, 3768 and 3769 are published on the Official Gazette No. 31369 and dated January 19, 2020 is available online here (in Turkish).

Background

Representative requirement: The Internet Law states that foreign social network providers with more than 1 million daily access counts from Turkey must appoint at least one person in Turkey as their representative and notify the ICTA of the appointment.

Violation of the representative requirement: In case of failure to comply with the representative requirement, the ICTA notifies the foreign social network provider and requests compliance within 30 days. If the foreign social network provider fails to comply, the ICTA issues an administrative fine and grants an additional 30 days for compliance. If the foreign social network provide fails to comply after the first fine, ICTA issues a second and higher administrative fine and grants an additional 30 days for compliance. If the foreign social network provider fails to comply after the second fine, the ICTA is entitled to prohibit natural and legal persons that are taxpayer residents in Turkey from (i) giving advertisements to; (ii) executing agreements with; or (iii) transferring money in relation thereto to the relevant social network provider.

What’s the Advertisement Ban?

The ICTA’s decision ascertains that:

  • Pinterest Inc., Twitter Inc. ve Twitter Inc. (Periscope/Scope) have more than 1 million daily access counts from Turkey and thus meet the criteria for triggering the local representative requirement under the Internet Law.
  • The social network providers failed to comply with their obligation to appoint a representative within the legal time periods.
  • As a result, the ICTA issued an advertisement ban on the relevant social network providers.
  • Legal and real persons residing and taxpaying in Turkey are banned from giving new advertisements, entering into contracts and transferring money to those social network providers.

According to the ICTA’s advertisement ban, tax payers resident in Turkey are prohibited from the following:

  • Issuing new advertisements to the relevant social network providers;
  • Entering into new agreements with the relevant social network providers; and
  • Transferring money to the relevant social network providers.

What’s Next?

The ICTA’s decision requires that taxpayers resident in Turkey take action in accordance with the advertisement ban’s requirements to ensure compliance with the ban.

In accordance with the Procedures and Principles for Social Network Providers published by the ICTA, public entities and institutions are also required to pursue the execution of the advertisement ban decisions published on the Official Gazette.

In terms of social network providers, if they do not appoint representatives within three months as of the advertisement ban, the ICTA may resort to a court of peace and request that the court reduce the social network provider’s internet bandwidth by 50%. If the social network provider still fails to appoint representatives within 30 days after the first bandwidth reduction, the ICTA may again resort to a court of peace to request that the social network provider’s internet bandwidth be reduced up to 90%.

Conclusion

As the ICTA previously indicated when issuing the first and second administrative fines to certain providers, the ICTA sanctioned social network providers that failed to appoint a local representative by imposing an advertisement ban on these providers. As a result, all tax payers resident in Turkey are expected to cease their advertisement activities on the services of the social network providers subject to the ICTA’s advertisement ban. The ICTA, along with other public entities and institutions, are expected to enforce the decision using their respective authorities. In any case, if the relevant social network providers do not comply with the requirement in the upcoming months, they may face bandwidth reductions that might cause their services to be impossible to use.

Please stay up to date with further developments through the Esin Attorney Partnership Coronavirus Helpdesk.