The Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) has fined the country’s three major mobile phone operators, Turkcell, Avea and Vodafone, a total of TL 13.6 million ($7.5 million) for violating the privacy of their clients.
These telecommunications firms opened phone lines called “open lines” using the personal information of their customers and registered multiple phone lines under one individual’s name. As a result, customers had other phone numbers in their name which they were unaware of. In 2009, the BTK implemented a new regulation and prohibited the use of personal information to register phone lines without the consent of the individual in order to prevent the use of these numbers by criminals. They gave a timeline to operators to minimize the number of these “open lines,” also informing them of the possible measures that could be taken against them if they failed to comply with the new regulation.
After starting an investigation a year ago to determine if the GSM operators had been following the regulation, the BTK decided to fine Turkcell TL 8.2 million, the highest amount out of all three companies. Turkcell received the fine for not establishing a system through which customers could find out how many numbers had been registered in their name. Moreover, the country’s largest operator gave phone numbers to its customers without a contract, or in cases where a contract had been established, it failed to give a copy to the client. Multiple incorrect points have also been found in the signed contracts.
Avea was fined TL 2.4 million for violating six rules similar to Turkcell, and Vodafone was fined the same amount for its infringements of the regulation.