Turkish Data Protection Board’s decision regarding Turkey branches and contact offices of legal entities established abroad, and their obligations to register themselves with Data Controllers Registry (the “Registry”) was published.
The Board, upon a request of an opinion letter from itself, has made an examination regarding data controlling titles of legal entities established abroad, the branches and contact offices of such legal entities located in Turkey, and their obligations to register themselves with the Registry. Turkish Data Protection Authority published the aforesaid Board Decision numbered 2019/225 and dated 23.07.2019 on its website on 07.10.2019.
1- With regard to legal entities established abroad:
The Board decided that pursuant to Turkish Data Protection Law numbered 6698, controller is defined as the natural or legal person who determines the purposes and means of processing personal data, and is responsible for establishing and managing the data registry system”, and therefore legal entities established abroad should hold the title of “controller” with respect to data they process in Turkey, and accordingly they are obliged to register themselves with the Registry.
2- With regard to Turkey branches of legal entities abroad:
The Board decided that, (i) although Turkey branches of legal entities established abroad do not have a legal entity, such branches are still registered as domestic business corporations according to article 40 of the Turkish Commercial Code, and taking into consideration that (ii) being a legal entity is not regarded as one of the criterion of being considered as controller regulated under article 4 of General Data Protection Regulation, if such branches are responsible for determining the purposes and means of personal data processing, as well as establishment and management of the filing system, then they will be considered as data controller, independent of legal entities established abroad. Additionally, as a result of the evaluation according to “annual number of employees” and “total annual financial balance sheet” criterion in the Board’s decisions numbered 2018/88 and 2019/265, the Board will decide the branches are under the obligation to register with the Registry or not and Turkey branches of legal entities established abroad which do not meet above mentioned conditions will be obliged to register with the Registry.
3- With regard to Turkey contact offices of legal entities established abroad:
The Board concluded that Turkey contact offices will not be obliged to register with the Registry, on the grounds that contact offices’ should be incorporated in accordance with of foreign legislation and they should not engage with commercial activities in Turkey; since the sole purpose of incorporating a contact office is providing information to the mother company and they do not carry the features of branches.
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