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An Important Decision by the Constitutional Court: Lack of Adequate Judicial Assessment for Privacy Related Fine

The Constitutional Court’s Decision No. 2020/7518 (“Decision”) was published on the Official Gazette on December 15, 2023. The Decision pertains to the violation of property rights resulting from an administrative fine imposed by the Turkish Personal Data Protection Board due to a data breach. The Constitutional Court did not delve into the merits of the case but emphasized that the lack of assessment made by the first instance courts led to violation of the applicant's property right.

Accordingly, while highlighting that the Turkish Personal Data Protection Authority has the discretion to impose proportionate sanctions to those who fail to take the necessary technical and administrative measures to ensure the appropriate level of data security, the Constitutional Court emphasized the significance of the applicant's arguments, which must be examined as they affect the judicial process. In this regard , the Constitutional Court concluded that the first and second instance courts did not assess the objections of the applicant and thus, the procedural safeguards for the protection of the right to property were not fulfilled in the concrete case. In respect to its evaluations, the Constitutional Court decided that the applicant’s right to property was violated by the Turkish Personal Data Protection Authority and decided to remit the case to the first instance court.

The Decision may lead to an increase in challenges against the Turkish Personal Data Protection Authority's administrative fine decisions imposed on data controllers and may force first instance courts to thoroughly evaluate these decisions.

Authors: Burak Özdağıstanli, Sümeyye Uçar, Begüm Alara Şahinkaya

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