Throughout the history, when a new technology emerges into our daily lives and become a widely accepted mean of handling information, there have always been related legal concerns which consequently lead to a need for regulations. To put it differently, we are safe to state that, the use of technology in our daily lives and legal applications are constantly in a battle, where on one hand, technology is trying to make life easier and on the other hand, laws and regulations try to protect individual’s “rights for privacy” and “protection of personal life” to the utmost.

Although from a legal perspective there are various definitions for “privacy”; the main concern is to draw the line on how far the society can intervene with a person’s life.

In the case of mobility data mining and the legal consequences that may arise because of its use, the legal regulations are limited in Turkey and need to be improved.

In Turkey, the major regulations about privacy are governed mainly by the Constitution. Section IV of the Turkish Constitution regulates the privacy and the protection of personal life. The Article 20 of the Constitution states that “everyone has the right to demand respect for his/her private and family life. Privacy of individual and family life cannot be violated”. Furthermore, the Article 8 of the Human Rights Conventions, to which Turkey is a party, regulates “the right to respect for private and family life”. Also, in Article 24 of the Turkish Civil Code it is regulated that a person whose personal rights are unjustly violated can raise a claim before the Court.

The sanctions for violations of privacy are stated in two main codes. The Article 134 of the Turkish Criminal Code regulates imprisonment and/or fines in case personal privacy of a person is violated. From the Civil Law point of view, Article 49 of the Turkish Code of Obligations grants to the person whose privacy is violated, the right to claim for compensation from the violating party.

Additionally, the issue should also be handled from the perspective of Intellectual Property law, whereby a person has the right on his/her own physical appearance. As an example, there are ongoing discussions about the use of surveillance cameras. It is commonly said that if, the public safety and public order necessitate, the State may have more powers over a person’s private life. Nevertheless, even if the State’s authority is in question; the balance between Public Safety and Personal Privacy and the borders among them should be delicately defined. Since the limits of the State’s powers are also subject to discussion in this case, another important question comes along: Whether or not private entities can closely intervene with personal lives by using data mining technology on mobility data. We also need to question if and how much public benefit there is related to such intervention.

As a consequence, there is a lot to be discussed and a long path to walk. It seems that the legislation is not ready for the applications of mobility data mining and related amendments or even a special code should be introduced in Turkey. In these new regulations, the balance between the personal privacy and the benefit of the public should be set and the allowed level of intervention of the private entities should be clearly drawn.

MODAP Newsletter

OCAK 2010

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