Turkey’s watchdog grants right to collect personal information of Internet TV viewers

A newly introduced regulation has granted the authority to Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) to collect information about the viewers of Internet TV and radio stations, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

On Tuesday RTÜK members convened for a meeting to discuss the draft of a regulation concerning the supervision of Internet TV and radio stations as well as types of sanctions to be imposed when they violate broadcasting rules.

At the end of the meeting, the regulation, which grants extensive powers to RTÜK to monitor and sanction Internet TV and radio stations, was adopted by a majority vote.

According to the regulation, owners of online TV platforms that offer paid services must submit to RTÜK various types of information and documents belonging to their subscribers.

The main goal of the regulation is to make it possible for RTÜK to also supervise TV station broadcasting on the Internet. TV stations will be required to obtain a separate license from RTÜK to air broadcasts on the Internet.

This means that online TV platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, BluTV, PuhuTV, Tivibu, Digitürk – Dilediğin Yerde, D-Smart Go, Turkcell TV+, Vodafone TV, and FilBox, which have millions of subscribers. will inform RTÜK about their number of subscribers and all kinds of subscription information at the end of each year and whenever requested by RTÜK.

As a result information about subscribers will be obtained indirectly by the Turkish Telecommunications Authority (BTK), hence the Turkish government.

The regulation was approved despite objections from RTÜK members from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

CHP deputy İlhan Taşçı, who is also a RTÜK member, said what the regulation has brought is nothing more than digital profiling of individuals and that RTÜK should have nothing to do with people’s personal information.

He said the regulation will put Turkey in a difficult situation in the international community, making it a country similar to North Korea.

Since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government has closed down dozens of critical media outlets and arrested dozens of journalists critical of it on coup or terror charges.

The only venue government critics can air their opinions is the digital media; however, the new regulation may deprive critics of this venue as well as it will be controlled and regulated by RTÜK. (turkishminute.com)

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