ITCA Decision on the Obligations of Social Network Providers
In accordance with the decision of the Information Technologies and Communication Authority (“ITCA”) titled “Procedures and Principles Regarding Social Network Providers” (“the Decision”) published in the Official Gazette dated 01.04.2023, the obligations of social network providers and the procedures and principles regarding the implementation of these obligations have been clarified.
Since this Decision was prepared on the basis of Law No. 5651 on Regulating Broadcasts on the Internet and Combating Crimes Committed Through These Broadcasts (“Law No. 5651”), new and detailed regulations regarding the obligations of social network providers already included in the relevant law. With the Decision, clarity has been provided on the implementation of heavy obligations that were first published and became effective on October 18, 2022. Meanwhile, if you wish, you may access our first article on these new obligations from this link.
First of all, the implementation of the procedures and principles determined under the Decision will not eliminate the obligations and responsibilities arising from being a social network provider or a content or location provider. In addition, real person or legal person that only include content for social interaction purposes in a certain part of the content published on the internet will not be considered as social network providers; platforms where social interaction content is offered as a secondary or ancillary service, such as personal websites, e-commerce sites, and news sites, are excluded from the scope of the Decision.
Social Network Providers’ Assignment of Representatives
As stipulated in Law No. 5651, which was amended for the first time in 2020, a foreign social network providers with a daily access rate of more than one million in Turkey is obliged to designate at least one authorized natural or legal person as a representative in Turkey. İf the daily access rate from Turkey is more than ten million, the representative must be a legal person in the form of a capital company branch. Having said that, the Decision states that the branch established as a capital company must fulfil the following conditions:
- Have been established in Turkey and to have acquired legal personality according to Turkish legislation.
- Having a trade name that includes the distinctive title of the social network provider and the province where the capital company was established,
- Having all of its shares owned by the social network provider,
- Stating in the articles of association that it is part of and affiliated with the social network provider,
- Having a minimum capital amount of TRY 100.000.000,00 (one hundred million),
- Stating clearly in the articles of association that it has been fully authorized and made responsible by the social network provider in technical, administrative, legal, and financial terms.
In addition, regardless of whether they are real person or legal person, representatives must submit documents proving that they meet the criteria arising from the relevant legislation to the ITCA. In case of any changes in the information and documents submitted, the information and documents containing these changes must be immediately and no later than 72 hours notified to the ITCA.
Responding to the Applications
As stated in Law No.5651, social network providers are obliged to respond positively or negatively with reasons. With the Decision, social network providers are responsible that the applications made by individuals can be made using the Turkish language option, and providing responses in Turkish.
Social network providers who fail to fulfill their obligation to respond to applications made by individuals shall be subject to an administrative fine of 5.000.000,00 (five million) Turkish Liras imposed.
Social network providers with daily access of over one million from Turkey are obliged to submit reports in Turkish information regarding the implementation of decisions to remove and/or block content reported to them, and applications made by individuals every six months. Reports covering the period from January 1 to June 30 must be submitted in July, while reports covering the period from July 1 to December 31 must be submitted in January.
Social network providers who fail to fulfill their reporting obligation shall be subject to an administrative fine of 10.000.000,00 (ten million) Turkish Liras imposed by the President.
Social network providers with daily access of over one million from Turkey are obliged to create an advertising library under Law No.5651. The advertising library must include the content, type, advertiser, period during which the advertisement was aired, target audience, and parameters used to determine the target audience, as well as the number of people or groups reached by the advertisement.
Social network providers must make the advertising library easily visible and directly accessible on their website.
Social network providers who fail to fulfill their obligation regarding the ad library shall be subject to an administrative fine of 10.000.000,00 (ten million) Turkish Liras imposed.
Providing Child-Specific Segregated Services and Protecting User Rights
Within the scope of the Decision, the social network provider is obliged to consider the following issues in the content, advertisement and other services offered to users who can be understood as children;
- Age of the child,
- Observing the best interests of the child,
- Protecting the child's physical, psychological and emotional developement,
- Protecting the child's physical, psychological and emotional development,
- Preventing the risks of sexual abuse and commercial exploitation of children,
- Ensuring minimum level of data processing with high privacy settings in the protection of personal data of children,
- Presenting issues such as the contract, user settings and data policies in a way that the child can understand.
On the other hand, with the Decision, social network providers are obliged to inform ITCA and users about this situation in Turkish in a clear and understandable way, within 72 hours at the latest, from the detection of significant security breaches regarding user accounts that directly or indirectly affect users accessing from Turkey.
In addition, the social network provider is obliged to establish a Turkish, clear, understandable and easily accessible application mechanism for the accounts that have been hacked or imitated, and to conclude the applications within a reasonable time. Today, as a result of the increase in the use of social networks, it is observed that the regulations about social network providers have increased. With the new procedures and principles regulated with the Decision, the limits regarding the obligations of social network providers in Turkey have been made more specific.
You may reach the Decision via the link.