INFORMATION NOTE ON THE SUMMARY OF THE DECISION OF THE PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION BOARD DATED 02/12/2021 AND NUMBERED 2021/1217
7 June 2022
You may find below our notes on the “Summary of the Decision of the Personal Data Protection Board (“Board”) dated 02/12/2021 and numbered 2021/1217 Regarding “The allegation that an untrue and dishonorable television news was made about the data subject, by using the photos of
the mother and her child, who is also a data subject”.
Allegation: It has been claimed by a data subject that the incident subject to the news is not about herself and her child and that the use and spread of the photo taken from her Facebook page is clearly against the law.
The following interpretations set forth under the decision of the Board are important:
- The name and last name of the data subject, and a photo of herself and her child are qualified as "personal data" since those data make the identities of the relevant persons specific or identifiable. Although the photo belonging to the data subjects has been broadcasted by the media company by blurring/icing, it is possible to make the data subjects identifiable when the blurred/iced photo is combined/matched with the other information, such as “name and last name”. This does not remove the personal data nature of the photo since it is possible to access the unblurred/uniced version of the photo when a search is made on the search engines and/or the social media platform Facebook with the name and last name information shared in the news.
- The activities of the media company such as recording, storage, disclosure, etc. of the name and last name of the data subject and the photo of the data subject and her child, who also qualifies as a data subject under the Personal Data Protection Law no. 6698 (“PDPL”), constitute "personal data processing activity" within the scope of PDPL.
- The fact that the photo of the data subjects which is used in the news is already publicly available on the Facebook page does not allow the use of this photo for other than its purpose, and the processing of the photo must be based on the personal data processing conditions regulated in the PDPL. Within the scope of the PDPL, the concept of "making publicly available" has a narrower meaning than making personal data available to public in any way and is closely related to the will of the data subject and the purpose of making it public.
- In the determination of whether the news is of public interest and benefit, it should be evaluated whether the news serves people's sense of unnecessary curiosity or protects high moral and legal values.
Review: Once again, the definition of personal data and personal data processing activity was made by the Board and the following points were made:
- Even if a person’s photo is broadcasted by blurring/icing, it qualifies as a personal data when the identity of the person can be exposed when matched with the other information that is also broadcasted with the blurred/iced photo;
- a person to make his/her photos publicly available, does not mean that any third party can freely use it; it is important to interpret narrowly the will of a data subject while making his/her personal information publicly available; and
- the news should serve the public interest and benefit rather than unnecessary curiosity.
Accordingly, this decision rendered by the Board once again drew attention to the matters that should be considered within the scope of the PDPL, by media service providers that make news with and/or without benefiting from the exceptions set out under Article 28 of the PDPL, while carrying out their journalism activities.
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