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26.02.2020

New Legislative Development In Turkey - Use Of Geographical Information And Data For Maps

Presidential Decree on Geographical Information Systems draws a framework for constituting a National Geographical Data Responsibility Matrix

The Presidential Decree on Geographical Information Systems ("Decree") was published in the Official Gazette dated November 7, 2019 and numbered 30941 and entered into force on its publication date.

The Decree determines its purpose as enabling coordination among public institutions and organizations; preparing targets and strategies; determining procedures, principles and standards with respect to the usage and maintenance of the geographical data and information (including its production, update, management, usage, access, security, sharing and distribution); and determining duties, authorities and responsibilities of the public institutions and the private persons with regard to the use of geographical information and data.

The Decree thusly, puts forth the necessity to establish a National Geographical Data Responsibility Matrix, which will determine and implement the national strategies and targets with respect to the use of geographical information and data and envisages that its establishment should be completed within a prescribed term of 1 year.

For purposes of the Decree, geographical information system refers to the "entirety of hardware, software, human resource, standards and methods that are required for the production, procurement, storage, process, management, analysis, updating and sharing of any geographical information". On the other hand, the Decree has defined (i) the geographic data as "any data containing location information"; (ii) the geographical information as "qualified geographical data that include attribution information and topological information"; and (iii) the geographic data themes as "collection of geographic data on a specific topic which is determined and updated in accordance with the national and international standards in line with the needs of public institutions, organizations, natural and legal persons within the scope of the Decree".

Accordingly, in addition to the activities of public institutions and organizations, the activities of private persons (e.g. real persons and legal entities) with regards to the use of geographical information are regulated with the Decree. As a matter of fact, the Decree sets forth that the collection, production, sharing and selling of geographical data within the scope of National Geographical Data Responsibility Matrix by private persons shall be subject to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization's ("Ministry") authorization, which may be granted upon review of the required commercial documentation and completion of the security investigation and/or archive research, where necessary. It further states that those private persons, who must apply for authorization from the Ministry shall also be obliged to record and update the information, with respect to the geographical data they collect, produce, share and sell.

Law on the Geographic Information Systems and Amendment of Certain Laws ("Law") determines the basis of using geographical information by public institutions and private persons

To determine the general principles of the collection, production, sharing and sale of the geographic data by public institutions and private persons, the Law on the Geographical Information Systems and Amendment of Certain Laws was published in the Official Gazette dated February 20, 2020 and numbered 31045.

The first article of the Law, which is the only article regulating the geographical systems as the Law itself is an omnibus bill, introduces the following provisions relating to the activities carried out with respect to the geographical information and data:

  1. Sharing and usage of and access to the geographic data by and among the public institutions, pursuant to the National Geographic Data Responsibility Matrix, shall be conducted free of charge.
  2. Without prejudice to the provisions of national security and legislation on intellectual, industrial and commercial rights and provided that the appropriate opinion of the institution responsible for producing data is received, geographic data sharing with private institutions, organizations and universities shall be conducted free of charge within the scope of collaborations for data mining and new data generation.
  3. Without prejudice to the provisions of special laws and provided that they have necessary documents to conduct commercial activities, collection, production, sharing and sale of the geographic data retained in the National Geographic Data Responsibility Matrix by natural persons or legal entities shall be subject to the authorization of the Ministry.
  4. Those that will be subjected to the authorization as well as the principles and procedures regarding the obtainment and duration of the authorization, shall be determined by the Ministry.
  5. Authorization fee per 1/1000 map sheet (in Turkish: pafta) shall be TRY 50 for foreign natural persons and legal entities and TRY 25 for domestic natural persons and legal entities. These amounts shall be updated each year in accordance with the revaluation rate.
  6. In case the authorization is not obtained from the Ministry before conducting the said activities, an administrative fine amounting to 10 times of the authorization fee shall be applied.

Conclusion

While the scope of application and the activities regulated thereof cannot be clearly identified from the letter of the Law and the Decree, it is being debated in practice that those private entities, which offer map applications are being targeted with the Law and will become subject to the aforementioned authorization and fee requirements. Accordingly, the details of the authorization + fee regime are expected to be further manifested with the secondary regulations, which are yet to be prepared and implemented by the Ministry.