Legal AlertThe Personal Data Protection Board Has Made an Assessment Regarding the Use of Biometric Signature Data.

30 August 2020

In its recent decision numbered 2020/649, dated 27/08/2020, (“Decision”) the Personal Data Protection Board in Turkey (“Board”) rendered upon the evaluations on the inquiry asking whether the biometric signatures could be processed without seeking the explicit consent of the data subject in cases stipulated by the law can be evaluated where the only requirement is to be signed by hand according to the Personal Data Protection Law numbered 6698 (“PDP Law”). As a result of the examination, the Board made an assessment that:

(i) the scope of the regulation in relation to the  “signature” is in accordance with the form requirement of the contracts included in the 14th and 15th Articles of the Turkish Code of Obligations numbered 6098 (“Code of Obligations”) consists of the signature and secure electronic signature and even if the legal consequences of these two are the same, these signature types are regulated separately in the law,

(ii) the interpretation of the regulations within the scope of the Code of Obligations in a way to cover the biometric signature will lead to a broad interpretation of the “cases stipulated in the laws” in the third paragraph of the Article 6 of the PDP Law and will be contrary to the principle of proportionality.

As a result of the Board’s assessment:

  • Biometric signature has the quality of biometric data,
  • In order to process the biometric data, it must be stipulated in the law or it is possible with the explicit consent of the data subject,
  • The provision on the form of signature in the Code of Obligations does not meet the “prescribed by law” requirement in the PDP Law,
  • Therefore, the biometric signature data could only be processed on lawful grounds if: (i) the explicit consent of the data subject is obtained, (ii) the information notice is made, (iii) the “Adequate Measures to be Taken by the Data Controller in the Processing of Special Categories of Personal Data” determined by the Board are complied with,

has been decided.

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