Throughout the past decade Turkish government has repeatedly made calls to global technology companies to open local offices in Turkey and pay taxes regarding their revenues made in the local market. They have repeatedly shown examples from rest of the world, and most recently they have presented a new argument for this, the Data Localization draft bill by the government ally MHP.
Data localization topic has been brought up on Turkey’s agenda multiple times since the beginning of the year, and in April it was again brought up in the agenda through a proposal for users to be registered on social media with their ID-numbers. AKP chair & President Erdoğan on July 1 made a speech during which he said that social media platforms must be regulated. IYI Party’s municipal councillor for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Dr. Taylan Yıldız who also has a background in technology, evaluated the draft bill for dokuz8NEWS.
THIS IS NOT A NEW PLAN
Dr. Yıldız initially explained that the most recent data localization attempt in Turkey is not a new one, as it has predecessors based on law numbered 5651. Dr. Yıldız said, “from time to time the governing party brings up regulation plans for social media and the internet. In recent months, there were also package bills containing articles that proposed changes to the law numbered 5651, internet publications regulation law.
KEEPING DATA INSIDE THE COUNTRY: IS IT SECURE?
Dr. Yıldız continued to explain that the proposed ‘security’ vision of the governing alliance is far from guaranteeing security for local users. IYI Party’s municipal councillor said, “when we look at this draft bill, it can be seen that it is proposed within the framework of ‘keeping Turkey’s data inside Turkey’. Yet this approach cannot be associated with obtaining data security. In the draft bill one can see statements such as, ‘local or international social network suppliers that have more than one million daily users in Turkey, are required to keep user data originating from Turkey, inside Turkey.’ This approach is far from securing the users’ data and the dynamics of the sector.”
POTENTIAL RISKS FOR INCAPACITY FOR COMPLIANCE
IYI Party’s Dr. Yıldız referred to multiple reasons why this bill might have a negative impact on the digitosphere in Turkey:
- Companies operating in Turkey might have both technical and operational incapacity to keep data inside Turkey.
- Data protection standards might be at a higher level in the country where the non-local company is based.
- There might be protection and management at lower costs.
COULD THIS LEAD TO DIGITAL PROTECTIONISM
Touching upon the potential barriers that might be put in place and how it can hinder the digital economy, IYI Party’s Dr. Yıldız said “The Law on Protection of Personal Data is in place in Turkey. If companies that act in accordance with this law are put under heavy obligations through this package bill, despite operating in accordance with the data protection law, this will create economic hardships for our country. It is utterly important to have a satisfying legal base on data crossing borders, which allows international investors to come to Turkey, for free movement of technology in the country and at the same time tech-developing national producers to be able to grow their businesses beyond the borders.”
Earlier last week Dr. Yıldız had also participated a webinar organized by Economic & Foreign Policy Studies Center EDAM on the topic of “Technology & Freedoms” during which he also had stated that this proposal cannot offer security at the promised level for users.